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Tune In to Hep C Benefit Concert Raises Over $250,000 for Community-Based Groups Supporting People with Chronic Hepatitis C
In support of World Hepatitis Day today, Merck (NYSE: MRK) (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) reported updates on three patient-focused programs to support the hepatitis C community. These programs are part of the company's Hope Against Hepatitis C initiative, Merck's ongoing commitment to increase awareness, prevention and diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. They are the latest examples of how Merck is working to deliver on its mission to help the world be well.
Approximately 130 - 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis C, a potentially serious disease that can damage the liver over time and lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and liver cancer. In the United States, chronic hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne viral disease; approximately 3.2 million Americans have chronic HCV infection.
While rates of new infection for chronic hepatitis C are dropping, the number of people with existing infection who are starting to develop serious complications, such as advanced liver disease and liver cancer, is expected to increase over the next 10 to 20 years. As a result, there is a growing need for increased awareness and education to help ensure people with chronic HCV infection are diagnosed and seek the care of a physician.
Tune In to Hep C Benefit Concert Raises funds for ALF and NVHR
Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame legend Gregg Allman and GRAMMY® winner Natalie Cole performed last night at the Tune In to Hep C benefit concert in New York, raising more than $250,000 to support testing, awareness programs, and services for people with chronic HCV infection. The proceeds will be provided to the American Liver Foundation (ALF) and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR). Special guests who performed at the concert included Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead; David Crosby and Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, who came out to support the cause and help turn up the volume around chronic hepatitis C. The Allman Brothers Band headlined the event to support Allman in his efforts to raise awareness of chronic hepatitis C.
The concert was part of Tune In to Hep C, an awareness campaign recently launched by Merck and ALF to drive awareness of this silent and progressive disease, and encourage people to talk to their doctors or healthcare providers about their options. To help drive this message, attendees at the concert previewed a new public service announcement (PSA) featuring Allman, which is set to hit the airwaves in the coming weeks. To view the PSA and learn more about the awareness campaign, please visit www.TuneInToHepC.com.
"The outpouring of community support around the campaign and the benefit concert has been remarkable, and we are grateful for the generous contribution, which will go towards helping people at risk and those infected with the chronic hepatitis C virus," said Newton Guerin, acting CEO and chief operating officer, ALF. "However, the night was about more than the money being raised. It was about changing the negative perception of chronic hepatitis C and reminding all of us that as individuals and communities, we must take action to fight this serious public health issue."
"I was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C more than 10 years ago, when it was relatively unknown and rarely discussed," said Martha Saly, director of NVHR and former hepatitis C sufferer. "That changed last night when all those legendary voices came together to encourage people with hepatitis C to not let stigma or fear stand in the way of talking to their doctor."
Step Up to The Plate Against Hepatitis C Testing Initiative Takes Place at Ballparks
To encourage more people to get tested for hepatitis C, Merck, in partnership with ALF, Coalition on Positive Health Empowerment and OraSure Technologies (Nasdaq: OSUR), has launched Step Up to The Plate Against Hepatitis C. Working with participating baseball teams in Chicago, Houston and St. Louis, this initiative will offer free hepatitis C testings and educational information at baseball stadiums to encourage people to get educated on the facts and tested for hepatitis C.
Testing events already scheduled include:
-- Chicago Cubs: August 6th, August 23rd
-- Chicago White Sox: August 21st, September 8th, September 13th
-- Houston Astros: August 20th, September 13th, September 23rd
-- St. Louis Cardinals: August 22nd, September 5th, September 24th
To learn more about Step Up to The Plate Against Hepatitis C and other testing dates, please visit www.AllAboutHepC.com/baseball.
Support for Global Hepatitis Initiatives
To further support World Hepatitis Day, Merck has provided a grant to the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), 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 organization is embarking on a variety of public education, awareness and policy initiatives to combat stigma and discrimination, while working toward developing a global viral hepatitis strategy with the World Health Organization.
"Merck has been working in the hepatitis C field for 30 years, and we take our commitment to the community very seriously as a key part of our efforts to help the world be well," said Patrick Bergstedt, senior vice president and general manager, Infectious Diseases, Global Human Health, Merck. "It is our hope that these programs, conducted in partnership with the global public health community, will have a lasting and meaningful impact on the prevention, diagnosis and management of chronic hepatitis C."
Today's Merck is a global healthcare 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 consumer care 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 healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com.
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Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck's 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC's Internet site (www.sec.gov).
Editor's Note: For more information on Tune In to Hep C and Step Up to the Plate Against Hepatitis C, please contact Diann Rohde of the American Liver Foundation at (646) 737-9404.
American Liver Foundation
Diann Rohde, 646-737-9404