Merck Access Dialogues

Partnership objectives

The Access Dialogue Series is a multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral platform for sharing information and best practices as well as discussing collaborative action around barriers to access challenges with public and private stakeholders.

Access Dialogues take place in many different types of meeting formats, whose purpose are threefold:

  1. to collaboratively identify creative potential opportunities to leverage the core competencies of the company towards further engagement in access initiatives;
  2. to focus on the different challenges and options around innovative approaches to access through an expert panel and discussion;
  3. to raise awareness internally on global health and access challenges to foster the mindset of making A2H part of Merck’s DNA, as well as to raise visibility externally on key barriers to access.

Merck Serono along with the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) and the Rural Marketing Association of India (RMAI) organized the Rural Access to Healthcare roundtable discussion. Merck Serono along with the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) and the Rural Marketing Association of India (RMAI) organized the Rural Access to Healthcare roundtable discussion. Copyright Merck

What are the health needs and challenges?

An estimated 1.3 billion people have no access to effective and affordable health care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), developing countries bear 93% of the world’s disease burden, yet account for only 18% of world income and 11% of global health spending.  Providing access to health in these countries is a complex challenge. Improving access involves researching, developing and refining health solutions, creating efficient health systems and distribution channels, offering products at affordable prices and empowering health workers and patients. All health stakeholders, both public and private, must pool their efforts to overcome health access barriers. At Merck, we recognize that we cannot address all the access gaps and achieve the change we seek alone. We believe that partnerships, collaboration and dialogue are key to delivering sustainable access results.  

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

The Merck Access Dialogue Series is part of Merck’s commitment to expanding sustainable access to high quality health solutions to under-served populations in developing countries. Merck is leveraging its core competencies, expertise, knowledge and experience across the health value chain in order to address barriers in access to health in developing countries. It aims to achieve this goal through a strategic focus on our Four As of Access: Availability, Affordability, Awareness and Accessibility.

This multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral platform is aimed at raising awareness which is the empowerment of health workers, communities and patients, with appropriate tools , knowledge, information and skills towards quality and informed decision making around the spectrum of prevention, diagnostics, treatment, care and support.

The access dialogues are not a one-off event, but rather a platform for a continuous and creative dialogue and exchange on priority access topics and challenges amongst all stakeholders, including multilateral organizations, governments, nongovernmental organizations, civil society, foundations, research institutions and academia, health care professional associations, patient organizations, think tanks and private sector partners.

Lessons learned                            

In its efforts to address the affordability challenge, Merck hosted an access dialogue on innovative access and intellectual property (IP). This was the first ever dialogue of its kind gathering representatives from government, international organizations, research institutions and private sector and explored opportunities for Merck to join existing innovative platforms such as WIPO Re:Search, DNDi or MPP.

Merck hosted an access dialogue on accessibility/ supply chain challenges in developing countries, which gathered partners and stakeholders from the health sector and beyond to share cross-industry experiences in improving supply chains to deliver products and solutions to people in developing countries and explore how sectors can work together to achieve the common goal of strengthening the delivery of much-needed products to developing countries. Participants in this initiative include industry partners; international organizations; as well as experts in the field of global health, development and supply chain.

Merck is aware of the importance of partnerships and is therefore committed to fostering a continuous collaborative dialogue with stakeholders and partners, from the public and private sector, on important access-related topics going forward.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

The access dialogue on innovative access and IP provided an open space for insightful and critical dialogue on how best Merck can utilize its capacities and competencies to address the affordability challenge.  The meeting helped realize common ground and opportunity for collaboration and collective action towards improving access to under-served populations through innovative thinking around innovative access and IP.  The meeting also demonstrated the crucial role of all stakeholders in ensuring a proactive and collaborative approach to IP.

Following the access dialogue on innovative access and IP, Merck joined WIPO Re:Search, an open innovation consortium, sponsored by WIPO, which shares intellectual property (IP) and know- how with the global health community with over 90 members. The platform contributes towards the accelerated research of new technologies and products to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), malaria and tuberculosis (TB), with the aim of benefitting patients in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

During the access dialogue on accessibility challenges, it was agreed that supply chain management in developing countries could benefit from coordination between the diverse stakeholders involved in this field. At the moment, there are overlaps between the various country initiatives and country capacity could be better utilized. Participants concluded that there is value in all stakeholders working together to overcome delivery challenges and capture synergies.

From the meeting, the concept of an Accessibility Platform to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices as well as the undertaking of joint problem solving emerged. Through this initiative, the platform hopes to identify the most pressing supply-chain challenges to access to health and generate ideas on how wider sector can collectively contribute to developing solutions.

This collaboration could translate into a more effective use of existing supply chains, supported by evidence provided by diverse stakeholders, including the industry, international organizations, supply chain experts, NGOs, civil society, academics, and cross-sector representatives, among others. Through the exchange of ideas and collective action we hope to break away from siloed-approaches, thus contributing to the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Merck

Partner(s) Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Medicines Patent Pool, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Type of Partner(s) IGOs, NGOs, Other Business, PDPs

Therapeutic Focus Other

Disease(s) General Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Technology Transfer - Scientific Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) General population

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 96

Country(ies) Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 2014

More information Merck Access Dialogues

Anticipated completion date Ongoing

« This meeting marks a turning point in how pharmaceutical companies will address the key issues around IP and access to health in the future. »

Access Dialogue on Innovative Participant