We continue to work hard to develop sustainable business models that will help improve access to our products for the people who need them most. Our partnerships with governments, international organizations and nongovernmental development organizations help support and implement programs that improve access and promote capacity-building.
Merck has a strong legacy of research and development of contraceptive products that have supported women’s family planning efforts. Over the years, we have been responsible for the development of a wide range of contraceptive options, including a single-rod contraceptive implant, a once-monthly vaginal contraceptive ring, and progestin-only and combined oral contraceptives.
Merck is committed to making its contraceptive products available to women around the world. We take a comprehensive approach to access that includes high-quality manufacturing and supply chain management; extensive registration and World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification of our family planning products; responsible commercialization that incorporates training and capacity-building; and community investment.
In developing countries that have high rates of maternal mortality and low rates of contraceptive prevalence, our Institutional Family Planning Services division has created a sustainable business model to promote access to contraceptive health programs. These activities are focused primarily on sub-Saharan Africa and select markets in Asia and Latin America.
We work to ensure that we have sufficient manufacturing capacity to meet short-, medium- and long-term availability of our contraceptive products for reproductive health programs conducted by governmental and nongovernmental organizations and other customers.
We seek to ensure global access to our contraceptive products by obtaining and maintaining up-to-date product registrations around the world. In addition to existing and in-process registrations, numerous registrations are planned for products in countries of various income levels.
Note: For World Bank country classifications, please click here.
In order to facilitate institutional purchases of family planning products and provide quality assurance, Merck has sought WHO prequalification for EXLUTON (lynestrenol), IMPLANON (etonogestrel implant) and MARVELON (desogestrel-ethinyl estradiol).
The success of reproductive health programs in the developing world relies upon the close cooperation and coordination of many partners, including pharmaceutical companies, like Merck, that discover, develop and manufacture contraceptive products; national governments that seek to support family planning by increasing the use of contraception; international, bilateral and multilateral donors that finance the purchase of reproductive health commodities and invest in service delivery management and implementation; nongovernmental organizations that support implementation of such programs; and healthcare professionals and health extension workers who counsel and provide care for women around the world.
As one of many partners, Merck takes the following steps to support family planning programs and to help increase awareness and access to a broad choice of contraceptive products.
Merck receives and responds to “Requests for Quotation” from developing countries governments seeking supplies for their own programs (financed by government funds, by multilateral organizations like the World Bank or through bilateral aid); from donor country aid agencies (e.g., USAID, DfID, KfW) seeking to purchase reproductive health commodities that will be donated to programs in one or more countries; from multilateral agencies such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), donating to one or more countries; or from nongovernmental agencies seeking supplies for programs that they manage in one or more countries.
In responding to these requests, Merck adheres to the specific guidelines of each proposal and acts in full compliance with local and international laws and requirements.
For contraceptive product pricing, we consider a nation's level of economic development and other relevant factors, including the type of family planning programs implemented by the local government.
In upper-middle-income and high-income countries, we provide our products at prices that take into account the innovation and value they represent. With a commitment to making our contraceptive products available to the public sector, we also offer discounts to organizations that serve women of all income levels, like Planned Parenthood affiliates, so that the women who rely on their services have routine access to contraceptive options that include nondaily and long-acting reversible methods.
In order to facilitate the purchase of our products for use in institutional family planning programs in low-income and lower-middle income countries, we price our reproductive health commodities at their lowest access prices when selling them to qualified buyers.
We believe that our pricing approach will help improve product availability while also allowing the company to continue to invest in research, development, production, and the training and education necessary to help ensure appropriate counseling and in the use of our products.
In July 2011, Merck and the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) announced a partnership to enhance access and appropriate and effective use of IMPLANON® for qualified buyers in developing countries. Under the initiative, IMPLANON® is available at Merck's lowest access price to donor agencies and family planning members of RHSC in sub-Saharan Africa, and in all other Low Income countries as defined by the World Bank and Lower Middle Income countries with maternal mortality ratios of >200 according to UN data.
Less than one year later, in November 2012, RHSC announced that the initiative had met its initial target of supplying 4.5 million units of the product, triggering a further price reduction for the eligible recipient countries.
In May 2013, building on the company's previous price announcement, Merck and a group of public and private sector partners announced an agreement to further expand contraceptive access and options for millions of women in some of the world's poorest countries. Under the agreement, MSD will reduce the cost of IMPLANON® and its next generation implant, IMPLANON NXT®, by approximately 50 percent for the next six years in the targeted poorest eligible countries of focus for the reproductive health community. Learn more.