Andrew Paterson | Global Head of Neurology & Immunology at Merck

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Andrew Paterson | Global Head of Neurology & Immunology at Merck

Συνέντευξη / Κοσμάς Ζακυνθινός

We have a highly complementary portfolio of MS treatments in Mavenclad and Rebif, addressing the needs of 9/10 RMS patients. We have just initiated a major Phase 3 program for our investigational treatment evobrutinib, which is the first oral, highly selective Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) inhibitor to show clinical proof of concept in RMS.

The company presented 39 abstracts, including data on Mavenclad (cladribine tablets), Rebif (interferon beta-1a) and investigational evobrutinib at the 35th Congress of ECTRIMS 2019. Given the above data, can Merck still be considered the leader in Multiple Sclerosis Medicines? 
The new data we will be sharing at ECTRIMS touch on several important topics for the scientific community, including long-term safety and efficacy data for Mavenclad, long-term efficacy data for interferon beta therapies, including Rebif, and data further elucidating evobrutinib’s proposed unique mechanism of action and its potential as a novel therapeutic approach in MS.
These data reinforce the important role of our currently-available treatments and offer further insights on our investigational treatment, as we continue our unwavering commitment to address the needs of the MS community.

What’s next for Merck on MS treatment in the next few years?
With more than 20 years of experience in the area of MS and our well-established treatment, Rebif® (which has almost 1.6 million patient years of experience) and our latest addition Mavenclad® (cladribine tablets), Merck has a long history of delivering innovative solutions across treatment, devices and support services, with the aim of advancing MS care. This commitment drives the research and development for our pipeline products and our efforts to address areas of unmet medical need

We have a highly complementary portfolio of MS treatments in Mavenclad and Rebif, addressing the needs of 9/10 RMS patients. We have just initiated a major Phase 3 program for our investigational treatment evobrutinib, which is the first oral, highly selective Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) inhibitor to show clinical proof of concept in RMS.

Several drugs on the market reduce the frequency and severity of multiple sclerosis flare-ups, which can involve a variety of disabling neurological symptoms. What are the competitive advantages of Mavenclad?
Mavenclad® is the first and only disease modifying drug to provide four years of disease control with a maximum of 20 days of oral dosing in the first two years. It offers the lowest monitoring requirement of all currently approved high-efficacy DMDs in a 4-year horizon. MAVENCLAD® is a highly patient-centric approach to managing highly active RMS.
Merck announced the documentary “Seeing MS from the Inside Out” on World MS Day last year. What’s the impact of this action?
The documentary “Seeing MS from the Inside Out” was premiered in front of a full room of patients, patient advocacy groups and journalists at ECTRIMS 2018 in Berlin, Germany, and we have received great feedback from the MS community, applauding that we help people really understand MS from the inside out. The documentary has been screened at the 2019 Indy Film Fest in Newfields, USA, and the Caorle Independent Film Festival 2019 in Venice, Italy and has been accepted for Beach Cities Inspirational Film Festival 2020 in California, USA. In addition the documentary has been awarded with a Bronze Telly Award. Two of the people featured in the documentary, the carer Jon Strum and the artist and MS patient Lydia Emily, are still working with the company in raising awareness about MS in the U.S.

How does Merck plan to pioneer new efforts to see MS from the “inside out”?
In addition to the documentary, last year, we also launched Living with MS: The Carer’s Perspective, a powerful report developed in partnership with the International Alliance of Caregiving Organizations and Eurocarers.
The report highlighted the important contributions family members make in helping patients manage their MS, and the specific challenges they, the carers, face with regards to their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.
The report has since been translated and publicized in several countries, including France, Poland, the US and Brazil and was also referenced by the European Federation of Neurological Associations in their Book of Evidence which sets the foundation for the activities of an Interest Group on Brain Health at the European Parliament in Brussels which we hope will lead to new policies in support of MS carers in the future.
I am also excited to announce that Merck will soon be launching a grants initiative to support grassroots organizations around the world that work with the families and carers of people living with MS. These grants have the potential to make a real difference.
At this year’s ECTRIMS we have decided to focus our MS from the inside out activities on the topic of MS and family planning. MS is usually diagnosed in people between 20 and 40 years of age and therefore family planning is a very important topic and one which remains poorly understood by many.

In the past, Merck launched global art campaigns for people with MS to express their invisible symptoms and the unseen impact of the disease. What are your expectations as regards patients and non-patients habits?
On World MS Day 2019 we launched art galleries around the world showing how people living with MS would express their disease through art. These art galleries were placed in offices and public spaces in 15 countries worldwide and supported our goal of helping people better understand MS from the inside out.

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