Merck Recognizes World Hepatitis Day With Partnerships and Grants to Support Global and U.S. Hepatitis C Communities

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., July 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In honor of World Hepatitis Day on July 28, Merck (NYSE: MRK) (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) today announced updates on several projects supporting the global and U.S. hepatitis C communities as part of its Hope Against Hepatitis C initiative, the company's ongoing commitment to increase awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection.  These initiatives include partnerships on a global and local level to provide support and funding for the hepatitis C community.

Approximately 3.2 million Americans are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus, which can damage the liver over time and lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and liver cancer.  In the U.S., hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood-borne infection.

"Merck has been committed to helping those with viral hepatitis for more than 30 years, and we are proud to build on that legacy by supporting educational and awareness efforts we believe can play an important role in addressing this serious global public health issue," said Jay Galeota, President, Hospital and Specialty Care, Global Human Health, Merck. "Through our support of hepatitis C education, screening and research, we hope to have a meaningful and lasting impact on the community of those affected by the disease."

World Hepatitis Day memorialized through partnership with World Hepatitis Alliance 
In support of World Hepatitis Day, Merck has provided a grant and partnered with the World Hepatitis Alliance, a leading global organization dedicated to preventing the spread of viral hepatitis and improving the lives of people living with the disease through better awareness, diagnosis and access to treatment and care.  The World Hepatitis Alliance is embarking on a variety of public education, awareness and policy initiatives to combat stigma and discrimination, while working toward implementing a global viral hepatitis strategy with the World Health Organization.

Donation of testing kits supports screening for hepatitis C virus around the world 
Merck has worked with OraSure Technologies to donate more than 11,000 rapid hepatitis C virus testing kits to assist local organizations around the world who have sought assistance with ongoing screening efforts. 

"Chronic hepatitis C is often referred to as a silent disease because of the lack of symptoms, so many are unaware they are infected until the disease has progressed," said Eirum Chaudhri, U.S. Director, Medical Affairs, Hepatology, Merck. "This particularly has become an issue among baby boomers who now may be experiencing complications from the disease.   In fact, given the high prevalence of infection in that population, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently issued draft guidelines that recommend all baby boomers receive a one-time screening for the hepatitis C virus."   

American Liver Foundation will offer new hepatitis C resources 
Through a grant provided by Merck, the American Liver Foundation has developed Hepatitis C: Diagnosis, Treatment and Support – a program that will offer multiple resources, including a patient hotline and web-based micro-site that will provide information, education and support for people diagnosed with hepatitis C.  Available through the American Liver Foundation's home page, the micro-site will enable visitors to obtain detailed information about hepatitis C, including risk factors and what they need to know about their diagnosis, as well as how to find support and resources.  The patient hotline is already available at 800-GO-LIVER (800-465-4837). 

Check Hep C NYC aims to link diagnosis to medical care and support 
Hepatitis C infection is highly prevalent in New York City, with an estimated 200,000 people infected with the virus.  Merck recently provided a grant to The Fund for Public Health in New York for Check Hep C NYC, a community-based initiative that aims to provide prevention counseling, testing, and follow-on supportive resources to New Yorkers who are at risk for or affected by chronic hep C.  Developed in partnership with New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene Office of Viral Hepatitis Coordination, Check Hep C NYC is designed to provide a direct link for those who test positive for hep C to comprehensive medical care and support services.

About Merck 
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