- Merck KGaA and the American Cancer Society (ACS) are working to highlight the impact of women's cancer, not just on women themselves but on the wider community, through their involvement in the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Initiative.
- The global burden economic burden of cancer in 2009 was around $286 billion, with much of this as a result of breadwinners dying early. In many cases, these are women – in the US alone, years of productive life lost was equivalent to $82 billion.
- Cancer deaths in women are growing, with 3.5 million deaths in 2012 rising to 5.5 million deaths in 2030, according to a report from the partners, and this will have the biggest impact on low- and middle-income countries. The four top causes of cancer deaths in women could be prevented or diagnosed earlier, according to a report from Merck KGaA and ACS.
Merck KGaA is one of the founding partners of the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative.
"We are proud to partner with the American Cancer Society to address the impact cancer has on women worldwide," said Belén Garijo, member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "This collaboration is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership that recognizes that no one sector can tackle this challenge alone. Improving women's health and well-being has an uplifting ripple effect on our world, and we know when women do better, our communities do better."
"It's incumbent upon both the public and private sectors, as members of the global health community, to find ways to reduce the impacts of cancer on women by increasing prevention and treatment, saving the lives of women across the globe," said Ambassador Sally Cowal, senior vice president, global cancer control at the American Cancer Society.
Merck KGaA's interest in cancer in women lies in its immuno-oncology pipeline, which is headed by Merck KGaA's checkpoint inhibitor avelumab. This monoclonal antibody targeting PD-L1, which is being developed in collaboration with Pfizer, is in a Phase 3 study in ovarian cancer. The study, which combines avelumab with platinum-based chemotherapy and compares it with standard of care, was the first of its type in the first-line setting for ovarian cancer.
Avelumab is also in another Phase 3 ovarian cancer study in combination with liposomal doxorubicin. These two studies could give Merck KGaA a competitive edge in the ovarian field, as it will be running to catch up in another Phase 3 indication, lung cancer, behind Roche, Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb.