Merck Serono to Mark World Diabetes Day

By Merck Serono S A, PRNE
Sunday, November 13, 2011

GENEVA, November 14, 2011 -

  • Merck Serono to run awareness activities for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes
  • The company has a strong heritage in providing treatment for Type 2 diabetes extending over fifty years
  • Merck Serono markets Glucophage®, the worldwide leading brand in volumes of metformin[1], which is recommended by the IDF as the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes[2]

Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announces that the company is participating in World Diabetes Day (WDD), a global awareness campaign initiated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), taking place every year on 14 November[3]. Responding to the call of the IDF to shine a blue light on buildings, Merck Serono will light up its Geneva headquarters in blue[4], helping the diabetes community to put diabetes in the spotlight. During WDD the company will also raise awareness among its employees on the needs for early detection of the disease and offer free glucose blood screening to employees at its headquarters in Geneva.

“Prevention and early detection of diabetes remain a necessity to limit the long-term complications of diabetes. In the countries where Merck Serono has a presence, we have been actively involved in various local awareness and early detection campaigns, including educational activities and free screening for patients at risk”, said Belén Garijo, Chief Operating Officer at Merck Serono. “The company has a strong heritage in the treatment of diabetes, starting in 1957 with the development of metformin. We are proud that metformin is recommended by the IDF as the first-line treatment of choice for type 2 diabetes[2], and that Merck Serono’s Glucophage® continues to be the worldwide leading brand in volumes of metformin[1]“, she added.

Merck Serono has a long history in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes worldwide accounting for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes[5]. The company developed metformin in 1957, and started its first commercialization under the brand name Glucophage® in France. Since 2005, the IDF has recommended metformin as the treatment of choice for first-line therapy in its first ever evidence-based Global guidelines for the management of type 2 diabetes[2]. To respond to patients’ individual needs, the company went on developing new formulations and presentations of metformin including Glucophage® XR, an extended release formulation, Glucophage® Powder Formulation in Sachets, and Glucovance® (metformin and glibenclamide), a fixed-dose combination therapy containing two anti-hyperglycemic compounds indicated for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The availability, indications and prescribing information for these prescription only medicines vary from country to country.

Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for many years. The diagnosis is often made accidentally from associated complications or through an incidental abnormal blood or urine glucose test. An early detection, physical activity, diet and adequate treatment can help control the effects of the disease and its long-term complications.


[1] IMS data, Brand Name sales (Standard units), Plain Metformin, Moving Annual Total, June 2011, for the period of July 2010 to June 2011

[2] International Diabetes Federation. Global Guideline for Type 2 Diabetes. Brussels: International Diabetes Federation, 2005

[3] WDD was introduced by the IDF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991, in response to concerns over the escalating incidence of diabetes around the world. WDD provides the global diabetes community a powerful platform to voice these concerns through local events organized by the member associations of the IDF and by other diabetes representative organizations such as healthcare professionals. WDD is held every 14 November to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting, who, along with Charles Best, is credited with the discovery of insulin.

[4] A photo of the building lit in blue can be dowloaded from the media section of the Merck Serono website:

[5], retrieved 02 November 2011

[6] International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 5th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2011

[7], retrieved 08 November 2011

About Diabetes

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportion in many regions of the world. According to the latest data released by the IDF, global studies demonstrate that the number of people with diabetes has reached 366 million in 2011[6] with 4 .6 million deaths in 2011[6]. Among adults, it is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations of feet and legs. A person with diabetes has a shorter life expectancy and has about twice the risk of dying on any given day as a person of similar age without diabetes[7].

About Glucophage®

Glucophage® (metformin hydrochloride) is a prescription-only medicine indicated for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus particularly in overweight patients when diet and exercise alone have failed. In adults, Glucophage® may be given alone or with oral antidiabetic agents, or with insulin. In children from 10 years old and adolescents, Glucophage® may be given alone or with insulin. A reduction of diabetic complications has been shown in overweight type 2 diabetic adults patients treated with Glucophage® as first-line therapy after diet failure.

Contra-indications: Hypersensitivity to metformin or any of the excipients, diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic pre-coma, renal failure or renal dysfunction, acute conditions with potential to alter renal function, acute or chronic disease which may cause tissue hypoxia, hepatic insufficiency, acute alcohol intoxication, alcoholism, lactation.

Special warnings and precautions: Lactic acidosis can occur due to metformin accumulation or whenever any condition associated with hypoxia, hepatic insufficiency, or poorly controlled diabetes occurs. Reported cases are primarily in patients with significant renal insufficiency. Initial and periodic monitoring of the renal function should be performed. Suspend therapy in case of surgery and radiologic investigations using intravenous iodinated contrast agents. Avoid in patients with hepatic disease and excessive alcohol intake. When combined with glucocorticoids, beta2 agonists, diuretics, ACE-inhibitors or any medication that may affect renal function (e.g., NSAID), monitor closely renal function and blood glucose level. In children, follow-up of the metformin effect on growth and puberty especially in pre-pubescent children is recommended. Not recommended during pregnancy and lactation.

Undesirable effects: Gastro-intestinal disturbances may occur during treatment initiation and resolve spontaneously in most cases; metallic taste, mild erythema, decrease of vitamin B12 absorption and lactic acidosis may also occur.

Please refer to local monograph as prescribing information may vary from country to country.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated affiliate of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux®, cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif®, interferon beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f®, follitropin alfa), endocrine and metabolic disorders (Saizen® and Serostim®, somatropin), (Kuvan®, sapropterin dihydrochloride), (Egrifta®, tesamorelin), as well as cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage®, metformin), (Concor®, bisoprolol), (Euthyrox®, levothyroxine). Not all products are available in all markets.

With an annual R&D expenditure of over € 1bn, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in rheumatology.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of € 9.3 billion in 2010, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck’s operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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Merck Serono is a division of Merck.


Merck Serono S.A. - Geneva, 9 Chemin des Mines, 1202 Genève, Suisse, Media relations, Tel: +41-22-414-36-00

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