Innovation is the lifeblood of Merck. That is why we invested almost $5 billion in research and development activities in 2008. Yet investment alone is not enough to guarantee success.

Drug research is a high-risk and time-consuming process. Only 1 out of every 5000-10,000 compounds screened becomes an approved drug. It takes an average of 10 to 15 years at an average cost of more than US$1 billion to develop a successful medicine. 1

To deliver important products to the people who need them, we need a global environment that supports the following enabling factors:

  • Intellectual Property Protection: Strong and enforceable patent laws act as incentives that encourage innovation, reward innovators, and lead to public dissemination of important scientific information and advances.
  • Competition-based Healthcare: A competition-based healthcare market allows firms that develop new medicines to earn an adequate return on their investment and to fund future research.
  • Government Support for Basic Biomedical Research: By supporting basic biomedical research, the U.S. government helps to increase general understanding about disease. Pharmaceutical researchers apply the knowledge gained in basic research in their quest for new medicines. Merck also believes that broader support of science and technology, including strong science programs in schools, ultimately helps to create an environment that advances innovation.
  • Evidence-based Regulatory Environment: A regulatory system that is effective, transparent and puts patients first by approving marketing applications for products demonstrated to be safe and effective also is critical.
  • Global Business Environment: Free market principles, ethical business practices, competitive tax policies, free trade and other factors increase the opportunity for innovative firms to be rewarded for their investments.


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