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Abstract

While some scholars have argued that companies should only serve the immediate financial goals of their stockholders, Merck and Co., Inc., one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical firms, has long taken a different position when it comes to alleviating the impact of disease in the developing world. All major pharmaceutical firms have an obligation to offer assistance when social, political, and economic conditions make it impossible for patients to receive life-saving therapies. On a practical level, there are clearly constraints: Merck's primary role in global health is to discover, produce and distribute innovative drugs and vaccines to address unmet medical needs worldwide. Merck and other pharmaceutical firms must have the resources - including investor support - necessary to continue performing that role. Merck's research programs to develop safe, effective vaccines for HIV/AIDS, rotavirus, and human papillomavirus attest to its commitment to address diseases of global magnitude for all people regardless of their economic situation. However, Merck recognizes that bringing new drugs and vaccines through regulatory approval and into the marketplace does not necessarily result in people having access to lifeprolonging medicines, especially in those regions of the world where the health care infrastructure is inadequate and poverty overwhelming. In these regions, Merck and other large producers should help remove the barriers that stand between patients and the therapies they need.

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