Shaping Tomorrow’s Cancer Care Today
02 FEB 2024
We have the opportunity—like never before—to improve cancer care, globally.
At Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we are driven by the belief we can positively impact the futures of people living with cancer. As we near World Cancer Day (WCD) on February 4, it is an important reminder for us to reflect and evaluate progress towards our Vision to help more patients become cancer survivors. Furthermore, we recognize the necessity of collaborative efforts in this endeavor. ‘Alone we are strong. Together we can be unstoppable.’
Advocacy and Investment in Global Health Plans and Policy
Thanks to recent advances, it is now possible to diagnose cancer earlier, conduct testing to identify specific mutations within an individual's cancer, and provide treatments that offer ever-improving outcomes; we have an opportunity like never before to improve care for patients. But to deliver these advances, continued and long-term political commitment is needed, as is an ambition to put patients and outcomes first, through a focus on innovation and sustainability.
WCD 2024 marks a crucial phase for the “Close The Care Gap” campaign, which advocates equitable access to cancer treatment. We must work collectively across the cancer community to keep access to cancer treatment high on health agendas around the world and ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to the care they need.
At Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we are using a comprehensive approach that integrates cutting-edge research and technological advancements with global advocacy to help improve patient outcomes and access to care:
- In Europe
The campaign is particularly significant considering the European elections in June. We call on cancer care and access to remain a key health priority and part of the electoral campaign across the European Union. This is also timely given the European Commission commitment to review Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan by the end of 2024, evaluating the effectiveness of actions taken in recent years and determining if additional measures are needed to meet the Plan’s objectives.
- In the United States
For several years, we have collaborated with the American Cancer Society’s Building Expertise, Advocacy, and Capacity for Oncology Navigation (BEACON) initiative. This supports global health institutions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by fostering the creation and integration of cancer patient navigation programs to address disparities in cancer care. We drive innovation to actively support initiatives like President Biden's revitalized Cancer Moonshot, which aims to cut the U.S. cancer death rate by at least 50% over 25 years by accelerating scientific discovery, improving patient service access, and advancing public policy.
- In Low- to Middle-Income Countries
We have already initiated several access initiatives in LMICs, including Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico and Peru. Boosted by our Systematic Health Access and Patient Enablement (SHAPE) program, we aim to reach 80 million patients per year by 2030.
Integrating Technology and Healthcare
By harnessing artificial intelligence, machine learning and other technologies, we can support personalized cancer care in ways that were not possible before. Our focus extends to digital healthcare platforms, for example through the upcoming launch of our Cross-Indication Disease Management Platform in collaboration with Huma. This innovative application enhances patient education and may help support patient adherence, while cultivating vital community support—an integral step towards comprehensive, patient-centric cancer care. Other initiatives include strengthening biomarker testing infrastructure, promoting the co-development of therapies and companion diagnostics, and advocating for improved regulatory frameworks that can adapt to the rapidly changing cancer landscape; for example, to enable easier use of complex clinical trials to ensure that effective treatments get to patients in a timely manner.
Revolutionizing Clinical Trials
When it comes to the development, recruitment and execution of clinical trials, our Healthcare business is committed to having a diverse patient population throughout the life cycle of our medicine development. In all clinical trials, we aim to better reflect the in-need patient population that would most likely benefit from our medicine(s). Our focus includes—but is not limited to—age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion and their intersections. We have been recognized by Bioethics International Good Pharma Scorecard (GPS) GOLD rating: the highest possible for diversity, inclusion and equity in clinical research.
Supporting Carers and Employees with Cancer
We recognize the critical role of unpaid carers, and that caregiving is often emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. Through our Embracing Carers initiative, we aim to ease their burden by providing essential skills, knowledge and support. In parallel, our commitment extends to employees living with cancer through the Working With Cancer Pledge, by ensuring a supportive and positive work environment that is inclusive, respectful, and safe.
Unified for a Cancer-Free Future
World Cancer Day is a moment to reflect on and renew our commitment towards equitable cancer care for all. At Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we are contributing to this goal through groundbreaking research and technology and shaping global health policy. We invite you to be a part of this transformative journey. Your involvement, whether through supporting cancer research initiatives, advocating for equitable and sustainable healthcare policies, or raising awareness in your community, plays a crucial role in this endeavor. Together, we can remove barriers to care, foster innovative science, and ensure that the latest advancements in cancer treatment reach everyone in need. Our collective efforts can create hope and a healthier future for those impacted by cancer.