Award-Winning Actress S. Epatha Merkerson, Merck and the American Diabetes Association Challenge African Americans with Type 2 Diabetes to Get to Their A1C Goal

Merkerson Visits Raleigh on July 15 as Part of America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals Program

KENILWORTH, N.J., July 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, the American Diabetes Association and actress S. Epatha Merkerson are bringing America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals to Raleigh, N.C. The program is designed to help African Americans with type 2 diabetes work with their doctor to set and reach their A1C goal. A1C is a person's average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. The program also encourages them to learn if they are at risk of low blood glucose and how to help reduce that risk. Merkerson will attend the Association's Live Empowered event in Raleigh at the Trent Semans Center for Health Education Great Hall at Duke University on July 15 to share her story and to help people living with diabetes learn about the importance of working with their doctor to establish their own A1C goal and develop a personalized diabetes management plan.

About one-third of adults living with diabetes are not at their A1C goal. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes have an individualized A1C goal, which for many adults is less than 7 percent. Other people with diabetes may have a higher or lower A1C goal, so it is important to talk to your doctor about the goal that's right for you. People with diabetes should understand why blood glucose can sometimes go too low, known as hypoglycemia. Low blood glucose can make people feel shaky, dizzy, sweaty, and sometimes faint. If left untreated, low blood glucose may lead to a seizure or loss of consciousness.

"I lost my father and grandmother to complications of type 2 diabetes, so I understand that high blood sugar levels over time can lead to serious health problems," says Merkerson. "I've also learned that it's important to understand why blood sugar can sometimes go too low. I'm excited to partner with Merck and the American Diabetes Association on America's Diabetes Challenge to raise awareness about proper blood sugar management."

Merkerson was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003 after having her blood glucose tested at a health fair event and being urged to see her doctor. Despite a family history of the disease, Merkerson was unaware she had type 2 diabetes. After her diagnosis, Merkerson became serious about her health and worked with her doctor to establish her own A1C goal and develop a personalized diabetes management plan, which included diet, exercise and medication, to help her achieve her A1C goal. By sticking to that plan—and making changes with her doctor when necessary—Merkerson has kept her blood glucose under control.

"America's Diabetes Challenge will help people living with diabetes understand the importance of working with their doctor to set and reach their A1C goal," says Dr. Robin S. Goland, M.D., Co-Director; Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center. "It's also important for people with diabetes to learn if they are at risk for low blood glucose and how to help reduce that risk. Some diabetes medications can cause low blood glucose, particularly if patients skip meals, change their diet, or increase their exercise."

Diabetes is a significant concern in the African-American community, as approximately 13 percent of all African-American adults have been diagnosed with the disease. In fact, diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in the African-American community, and African Americans are also more likely than other ethnic groups to experience serious long-term health problems over time from the disease. Nearly 10 percent of the adult population of North Carolina has been diagnosed with diabetes.

"We're excited to include America's Diabetes Challenge as part of our Live Empowered event," said Jim Straight, Executive Director, Eastern North Carolina, American Diabetes Association. "The American Diabetes Association is committed to raising awareness of diabetes and to providing relevant resources for people with the condition to help them get to their treatment goals. This program provides important information for African Americans living with type 2 diabetes, as well as for their friends and family."

For more information about Merkerson's story and America's Diabetes Challenge, visit You can also join the America's Diabetes Challenge community by visiting

About S. Epatha Merkerson
S. Epatha Merkerson is a celebrated film, stage and television actress known for her long-running role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren in the television series Law & Order. Merkerson has won multiple awards, including an Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and NAACP Image Award for her work in Lackawanna Blues. Merkerson has also been nominated twice for a Tony Award and recently performed in the New York premiere of While I Yet Live, by Kinky Boots star Billy Porter. After working many years together on Law and Order, Ms. Merkerson is now reuniting with Executive Producer Dick Wolf on his new NBC series Chicago Med, premiering in Fall 2015.

About America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals
America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals is an educational program from Merck and the American Diabetes Association urging people with type 2 diabetes to work with their doctor to set and reach their individual A1C goal. The program also helps people with type 2 diabetes learn if they are at risk of low blood glucose and how to help reduce that risk. As part of Merck's partnership with the American Diabetes Association, and to further support the millions of Americans living with type 2 diabetes, America's Diabetes Challenge will be featured at American Diabetes Association EXPOs and Live Empowered and Feria de Salud events throughout the U.S. For more information about America's Diabetes Challenge, to make the pledge to work with your doctor to set and reach your own A1C goal or challenge loved ones to do the same, visit You can also join the America's Diabetes Challenge community by visiting

About Type 2 Diabetes
Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and 90% to 95% of these people have type 2 diabetes. When someone has type 2 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin and/or the insulin that the body makes does not work properly. This causes blood glucose levels to become too high, and the body may also keep making glucose even though it does not need it. Once a person has type 2 diabetes, it does not go away, and high blood glucose levels over time can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.

About the American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. For the past 75 years, our mission has been to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.

About Merck
Today's Merck is a global health care leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Forward-Looking Statement
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Media Contacts:

Kristen Drake



Justin Thomas

American Diabetes

919-743-5400, ext. 3217




American Diabetes Association

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SOURCE Merck; American Diabetes Association