Weight Watchers and Merck Collaborate to Help Physicians Fight Obesity Through Lifestyle Management Approach

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:08 am EDT

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NEW YORK & WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.

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NYSE:
MRK
"We hope this collaboration with Weight Watchers will enable us to provide physicians with a comprehensive solution they can offer their patients to help better manage weight."

Weight Watchers International, Inc., the world's leading provider of weight management services, and Merck, a global healthcare leader, announced today an innovative collaboration focused on fighting obesity. The two companies will launch an initiative in which Merck will provide physicians and other health care providers with educational information about the Weight Watchers® program and its underlying clinical evidence to assist doctors in addressing the ongoing weight management needs of their patients.

“Recently published research at the 2010 International Congress on Obesity demonstrated that the combination of the proven Weight Watchers behavior modification approach with physician’s encouragement provides a significant increase in patient adherence to weight-loss solutions and greater weight loss success than just standard physician care alone. Weight loss is an important component of preventing and addressing many health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension. Because our weight management approach helps educate people on how to live a healthy lifestyle while allowing flexibility, the Weight Watchers program delivers real weight loss results. Collaborating with Merck will enable us to arm physicians with a comprehensive, sustainable, scalable and non-pharmaceutical solution for weight loss designed to help improve the overall health of their patients,” said David Kirchhoff, CEO of Weight Watchers International.

Beginning in January 2011, physicians and other health care providers in the North Central United States, where the initiative will be piloted, will receive educational materials to help them initiate more effective and efficient conversations about weight loss with their patients, increase awareness of obesity-related health risks and demonstrate how the Weight Watchers program may align with their goals to help patients attain and maintain a healthy weight.

”Our commitment to improving global health care goes beyond medicines and vaccines,” said Jay Galeota, senior vice president, Global Human Health, Strategy and Business Development, for Merck. “We hope this collaboration with Weight Watchers will enable us to provide physicians with a comprehensive solution they can offer their patients to help better manage weight.”

"Losing weight is a tremendous challenge for patients, yet it is so important for both preventing and controlling chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Mere advice from a doctor to lose weight without intensive assistance and resources is not effective. As a result many doctors feel powerless to help their patients because they have little to concretely offer,” said Alex Krist, MD, MPH, faculty member for the Virginia Commonwealth University Family Medicine Residency program at Fairfax Family Medicine Center. “We need to search for new ways that healthcare providers, as well as weight management resources, such as Weight Watchers, can effectively work together and help patients."

With a track record of success that spans nearly 50 years, Weight Watchers is one of the most clinically-studied commercial weight loss programs, with more than 61 published trials and counting. It is among the most recognized and trusted commercial weight loss programs.

About Weight Watchers International, Inc.

Weight Watchers International, Inc. is the world’s leading provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. Weight Watchers holds almost 50,000 meetings each week where members receive group support and learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior modification and physical activity. WeightWatchers.com provides innovative, subscription weight management products over the Internet and is the leading Internet-based weight management provider in the world. In addition, Weight Watchers offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those interested in weight loss and weight control. For more information, visit www.weightwatchers.com.

About Merck

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 that donate and deliver our products to the people who need them. For more information, visit www.merck.com.

Forward Looking Statements by Weight Watchers International, Inc.

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on management's current expectations and beliefs, as well as a number of assumptions concerning future events. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including, among other things: competition from other weight management industry participants or the development of more effective or more favorably perceived weight management methods; Weight Watchers’ ability to continue to develop innovative new services and products and enhance its existing services and products, or the failure of its services and products to continue to appeal to the market; the effectiveness of Weight Watchers’ marketing and advertising programs; the impact on the Weight Watchers brand of actions taken by its franchisees and licensees; Weight Watchers’ ability to successfully make acquisitions or enter into joint ventures, including its ability to successfully integrate, operate or realize the projected benefits of such businesses; uncertainties related to a downturn in general economic conditions or consumer confidence; the impact of events that discourage people from gathering with others; Weight Watchers’ ability to enforce its intellectual property rights both domestically and internationally, as well as the impact of its involvement in any claims related to intellectual property rights; the impact of disputes with Weight Watchers’ franchise operators; the impact of existing and future laws and regulations; and other risks and uncertainties, including those detailed from time to time in Weight Watchers’ periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on such forward-looking statements because actual results may vary materially from those expressed or implied. Weight Watchers assumes no obligation to, and expressly disclaims any obligation to, update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Readers are advised to review Weight Watchers’ filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (which are available from the SEC's EDGAR database at www.sec.gov, at various SEC reference facilities in the United States and via Weight Watchers’ website at www.weightwatchersinternational.com).

Forward Looking Statements by Merck

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and operating results, the combined company’s plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the possibility that the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation; the risk that the businesses will not be integrated successfully; disruption from the merger making it more difficult to maintain business and operational relationships; Merck’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck’s patents and other protections for innovative products; the risk of new and changing regulation and health policies in the U.S. and internationally and the exposure to litigation and/or regulatory actions.

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 2009 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).

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