New Horizon Youth Centre is our UK Neighbour of Choice for 2022/2023

January 2023

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We are delighted to announce a second consecutive year of supporting New Horizon Youth Centre (NHYC) via our Neighbour of Choice grant funding. We are awarding $100,000 to help enable the exceptional work that the charity delivers throughout the year in our local community, tackling the pressing problem of youth homelessness in the capital.

The charity, based in the heart of London, helps young people experiencing homelessness in vital ways via their day centre, outreach and remote support. They also strive to create long term solutions through their rehousing projects. MSD’s support has focussed on the health and wellbeing provision in the drop-in Day Centre.  Members from our Corporate Policy and Communications team volunteered at their King’s Cross Centre in summer 2022, allowing us to have an insight into the life changing work the charity carries out.

Analysis of our first year funding showed that our Neighbour of Choice grant allowed 499 young people to access the services offered in the Day Centre in King’s Cross. 159 young people were helped through the education, training, and employment service. In addition, in 110 cases, support was provided to improve mental health and wellbeing.

The Neighbour of Choice programme is a global initiative, helping MSD to serve local community needs where we are based. We are proud to be continuing with the success of this important programme and we are excited to be a part of the positive local impact NHYC will deliver this year.

GB-NON-06888 | Date of Preparation: Jan 2023


MSD’s 2nd Hackathon: Health Equity Challenge

January 2023

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The problem of health inequity is one of the biggest our industry faces, and we can’t solve it in silos.

How do we achieve health equity? The dilemma has weighed on the healthcare industry for years, and with the core of the problem lying in deeper racial and socioeconomic inequities and structural flaws in the healthcare system, there is no one clear answer. But what is abundantly clear is that progress can only be made by individuals with bold ideas who represent the societies they serve.

The Health Equity Hackathon, hosted by employee resource groups LEAD (League of Employees of African Descent), MSD, in collaboration with embRACE, Eli Lilly, aimed to play a part in that progress. Welcoming 60+ university student from diverse backgrounds, the 2-day event challenged the next generation of scientific minds to find solutions to some of the biggest barriers in health equity such as deprivation, community relationships with healthcare providers and health literacy.

Hackathons are proving grounds for new ideas. They stimulate the creative juices of participants and foster problem-solving and risk-taking in a safe environment. Through intensive research and guidance from industry professionals, students worked in teams to explore the multitude of barriers that form inequities before being tasked to find creative solutions to address these.

Each team had the chance to present their final concept to a group of subject matter experts, with individuals from the winning team being awarded accelerated opportunities at both MSD’s and Lilly’s student placement programme.

The winning idea focused on health literacy; increasing accessibility by improving package inserts found in medications to include a QR code linking to an easy-to-read webpage hosting informational videos explaining key medical information. Ultimately, the concept would help achieve health equity by empowering individuals to make more informed health decisions.

Lottie, one of our Hackathon winner said ‘This was an excellent opportunity to network and explore ideas about tackling different areas of health inequalities. All 12 groups had some really interesting ideas, and I highly enjoyed developing my teamwork, problem solving and public speaking skills in such a supportive and encouraging environment.’

Over the course of the event, a phenomenal amount of creative solutions were catalysed by the banding together of passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds with fresh perspectives. In addition to raising awareness of the ongoing issue of health inequity amongst those poised to make a difference, MSD is proud for this Hackathon to form part of our ongoing commitment to creating a strong and diverse talent pipeline. Inviting creativity, fostering diversity and ensuring representation is key to driving progress and improving patient outcomes

GB-NON-06820 | Date of Preparation: Dec 2022


Recognising and Celebrating World AIDS Day 2022

January 2023

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Last week all divisions at MSD UK recognised and celebrated World AIDS Day with a number of activities.

On World AIDS Day itself, our colleagues were privileged to hear perspectives and insights from Vittorio on living with HIV. We learned about the importance of awareness days and recognised the critical journey we have been on throughout the last 40 years. Vittorio, who also works within our clinical trials team, explained the importance of fostering equity, diversity and inclusion in clinical trial development, across all intersections of society- a particular passion point for him.

More than 20 of our colleagues joined Positive East’s incredible RED RUN to support the HIV community and the fight against HIV stigma. We felt honoured to be able to support Positive East and all the other HIV community groups involved in the RED RUN who have been at the forefront of HIV service and care across the years; improving the quality of life of individuals and communities affected by HIV from point of diagnosis to longer term care.

We have also had the chance to reflect on the Fifty Over 50 project, a unique listening exercise which set out to give people growing older with HIV a voice.  Fifty Over 50 brings together first-hand accounts from a diverse range of people living with HIV aged 50+, and highlights how for many in the HIV community, being well is about more than just viral suppression, it’s also about living well. As the number of people who are now growing older with HIV increases, this brings with it a host of new or additional challenges.

Thanks to decades of clinical research, innovation and cross-sector collaboration, HIV has largely become a chronic condition in the UK. The UK has led the way in achieving the UNAIDS targets of 95% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, of those with a known HIV diagnosis 95% receiving treatment, and of those receiving treatment 95% having an undetectable viral load.

Reflecting on MSD’s legacy in HIV healthcare, we are united in our commitment to support the Government’s ambition of zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.

GB-NON-06825 | Date of Preparation: December 2022


Volunteering Hours Well Spent

January 2023

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What do climbing mountains, cleaning beaches, and being backstage at the Commonwealth games have in common? They’re all ways our wonderful employees have chosen to spend their paid 40 hours volunteering time!  

Across the summer months, MSD colleagues have travelled far and wide, utilising their hours to make a real impact outside of their daily role. The policy, which grants every colleague 40 hours of paid volunteering, gives colleagues a chance to get involved with projects personal to them, in recognition of the endless list of benefits volunteering can bring.  

One of the most appreciable of these benefits is a feeling of togetherness. Alison, who alongside members of our UK Asia Pacific Association EBRG, spent a day at a community centre and cornerstone of the BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) community in Camden. Reflecting on her experience she said “I am so proud to have spent a beautiful day volunteering with wonderful staff and communities.”

Read more on this and other volunteering activities below!  

UK Asia Pacific Association – Kings Cross Brunswick Association

The UK Asia Pacific Association Core Team spent a day with the Kings Cross Brunswick Association, serving both a Bangladeshi Community Centre luncheon and a Chinese community picnic.

“The day was all about food preparation, sharing and learning stories on our cultures, eating delicious food together with much laughter and smiling faces from everyone we met. Volunteering is all about teamwork and everyone played their part.”

Lisa – Mountain Rescue

“This year I used my 40 hours to volunteer for Scottish Mountain Rescue. As a member of this charity, it is useful to have this extra time as most volunteering I do is taken up with training and rescues mainly at weekends so there is often less time for other important tasks .

I used this time from MSD to up-skill some newer members who have been unable to attend other training events.  I have also been updating our equipment records into a more usable format and general tidy up of safety records. Next year, I’m hoping to do the emergency medical technicians’ training which is a 5-day course as it would be very useful to have someone with this qualification in the rescue team – having the 40hrs from MSD could make this possible.”

Andrew – Surfers Against Sewage

“Using my MSD volunteering hours, I have volunteered for Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) working with the teachers and children at a local primary school in Whitley Bay, (North East England) to help them to achieve SAS ‘Plastic Free School status’.

This involved us going to the local beaches and doing beach cleans and classroom sessions on what reductions in single use plastics they could make in their own school. We also supported them to write to local businesses they frequent which use single use plastics and to their local MP to demand change to the system. They are the first local school to achieve Plastic Free Status!”  

Joanne – Commonwealth Games

“As part of the MSD volunteering programme, I put myself forward for the Commonwealth Games 2022. The games were being held in England, in my home city of Birmingham, and my reply to anyone who asked why would you commit yourself was ‘why not?!’

The Commonwealth Games is a wonderful platform for inclusion and diversity by showing people what is possible and encouraging the next generation. The fact that it was being held in my home city was a once in a lifetime opportunity. In my role as a Team Leader for the uniform section, I was responsible for ensuring that all of the many volunteers, technical staff and officials had uniform that fitted them! I am incredibly proud of being part of the Commonwealth Collective and proud of being Brum!” 

Corporate Policy Team – New Horizon Youth Centre

Members of Corporate Policy teamed up to volunteer at our Neighbour of Choice charity, New Horizon, where they landscaped the exterior of their day centre where immediate help is given to young people facing homelessness.

“…We transformed the old empty flower beds into a horticultural masterpiece! Who knew that the Corporate Policy and Communications team had so much gardening talent? The young people will continue with the garden project, and we hope that it creates a welcoming environment at the day centre.”

Nat & Sara – Richard T. Clark Fellowship for Global Health

Nat and Sara volunteered their time to take part in our annual RTC Fellowship programme – a corporate volunteering programme designed to leverage the skills and talents of our employees worldwide.

Working with NGO’s in Costa Rica, the pair have been able to offer vital support harnessing the skills and knowledge they’ve learned in their daily roles to an exciting new environment.

GB-NON-06472 | Date of Preparation: September 2022

Our People

Actions not Words : Black History Month

January 2023

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As MSD in the UK celebrates Black History Month this October, our League of Employees of African Descent (LEAD) has been reflecting on their activities to help boost diversity, equity, and inclusion over the past year.

Our LEAD team has been working closely alongside talent acquisition colleagues to find ways of increasing better representation throughout the job application process.

Running for the second year, the LEAD-led Hackathon returned with an aim of ‘hacking’ how we can improve health equity as an industry. Partnering with Eli Lilly UK, 60 undergraduate students from 29 different universities were involved, offering perspectives and potential solutions.

This followed previous ‘hacking’ of the challenge of increasing diversity in clinical trials where 30 undergraduate students from 20 universities worked to find solutions in collaboration with the UK Global Clinical Trial Operations department.

Additionally, the team has launched a career development programme called ‘LEAD Your Career’ that will see colleagues practically supported when setting their work goals, encourage aspiring leaders and make sure everyone has an opportunity to reach their potential. The pilot programmed kicks off this month with a cohort of 15 participants across all divisions.

The team has also been working with partners in our community, including a charity that is building a mentorship programme for young Black people. By making use of our volunteering policy – where all employees are granted 40 hours of volunteering leave a year – the LEAD team has been working hard to encourage colleagues to sign up to the scheme. So far seven colleagues have already signed up to participate in the programme.

Alongside this, the team has continued to champion a sense of community throughout our organisation with a series of events, including visits by special guest speakers. A particular highlight was this summer’s first cross-company games, which the LEAD team helped plan, run and participate in.

Hosted by our Animal Health division, this event brought 160 employees together, with representation from our other employee business resource groups. Colleagues from our MSD Research Laboratories joined others from our Human and Animal Health divisions to build connections, strengthen relationships and promote an environment of belonging regardless of background, seniority or role.

Although the team is proud of their achievements this year, they and the wider organisation are not complacent. The LEAD is partnering with our leadership team to ensure this work is built on and that progress is effectively measured and evaluated to ensure MSD in the UK continues to offer a workplace that is welcoming to all.

2022 Hackathon

GB-NON-06555 | Date of Preparation: October 2022


MSD publishes key report on inequalities in cancer

January 2023

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Levelling up: what does it mean for cancer in England?

Sadly, some cancers are deemed less survivable owing to issues with diagnosis or treatment compared to other cancer types. MSD believes there is an opportunity for the Government to pledge to double survival rates for people with one of these less survivable cancers over the next decade.

Every year, over 90,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with a less survivable cancer: lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, oesophageal cancer, stomach cancer and brain cancer. These cancers make up a quarter of all diagnoses, but more than 40% of all deaths from the disease.1 Survival rates have seen little improvement since the early 1970s,2 with only 16% of patients living beyond five years.3 MSD’s recently published report, developed with input from the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, highlights widespread geographical variation in diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for people with a less survivable cancer in England, and a growing body of evidence to suggest that, in some cases, deprivation is a driver of this variation. Rightly, the Government has made numerous commitments to improving cancer outcomes and tackling health inequalities.4, 5 We make the case that without a greater focus on, and investment in, the less survivable cancers, it will not be possible to deliver on the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan and it will not be possible to lead the world in cancer care.

Please read the report linked here to view our five key recommendations on how to level up the less survivable cancers and addressing unwarranted variation.

MSD worked with the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce to conduct research into and develop a report on inequalities in treatment and outcome of less survivable cancers. This report was funded and developed by MSD with advice and input from members of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce.

1 Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce calculations using data from: Cancer Research UK. Cancer Statistics for the UK. 2022. Available from Accessed August 2022

2 Quaresma, M. et al. 40-year trends in an index of survival for all cancers combined and survival adjusted for age and sex for each cancer in England and Wales, 1971-2011: a population-based study. Lancet. 385(9974):1206-18. 2015. Available at: doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61396-9

3 Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce calculation using data from: NHS Digital (National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service). Cancer Survival in England, cancers diagnosed 2015 to 2019, followed up to 2020 (Adult cancer survival data tables for 2015-2019 diagnoses). 2022. Available from: https// Accessed August 2022

4 NHS England. The NHS Long Term Plan. 2019. Available from:

5 Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities. Levelling Up the United Kingdom. 2022. Available from:

GB-NON-06528 | Date of Preparation: October 2022


Why Health Literacy matters to us at MSD

January 2023

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Antibodies. Variants. Transmissibility. Who would have ever thought we’d use words like these in everyday life?

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how important it is to understand health information to help keep ourselves and our families, friends and communities healthy.

Improving health literacy – defined as a person’s ability to find, understand and use information and services to make health-related decisions for themselves and others – is important to health situations across the board, from disease prevention options to clinical trials to cancer, HIV, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many others.

Getting information that is accurate, relevant and presented in a meaningful way is challenging- especially in the digital age where we might have to navigate often contradictory health messages or even misinformation. As a pharmaceutical company, MSD has a vital role to play in ensuring that the information we provide to the people who are prescribed our medicines reaches the highest standards.

It is for this reason we have committed to joining the Patient Information Forum’s PIF-TICK standard . Being part of the scheme not only means we should be assuring accuracy, but also co-creating health information with the people it is being made for. It also means working collaboratively with organisations who know the communities most affected by the diseases and conditions we work in. Our policy statement on patient information creation can be found here

Why improving health literacy is urgent

The Patient Information forum say that:

  • 1 in 6 in UK have very low literacy skills[i], [ii]
  • up to 1 million people in UK cannot speak English well or at all[iii]

Knowing that this will impact on health inequality and outcomes means we know we need to do a better job at meeting people where they are and on their terms.

How we’re making health information easier to understand

Internationally, some of the ways we’re improving health literacy in our own communications include:

  • Creating easy-to-read patient labels
  • Improving packaging and instructions for use
  • Developing easy-to-understand disease education materials
  • Improving health literacy in clinical trials
  • Sharing best practices externally

There is always more we can do and we aim to keep improving.

Have you seen some MSD patient materials or information?

What did you think?

We would love suggestions on how we could do better and things we should do more of. Email our Medical Information team at:

[i] Survey of Adult Skills 2012

[ii] Skills for Life 2011


GB-NON-06409 | Date of Preparation: September 2022


MSD launches Fifty Over 50: Giving people growing older with HIV a voice

January 2023

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A unique listening project in partnership with several leading HIV organisations, with a mission to hear from people who are growing older with HIV.

Thanks to decades of clinical research, innovation and cross-sector collaboration, HIV has largely become a chronic condition in the UK. The UK has led the way in achieving the UNAIDS targets of 90% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, of those with a known HIV diagnosis 90% receiving treatment, and of those receiving treatment 90% having an undetectable viral load.

The progress which has been made through improvements in testing and treatment has been remarkable, and new diagnoses of HIV continue to decrease in the UK. However, as the number of people who are now growing older with HIV increases, this brings with it a host of new or additional challenges.

The Fifty Over 50 project, coordinated by MSD in collaboration with the Whole Person Care group of HIV community and professional organisations, is a unique listening exercise which set out to give people growing older with HIV a voice. Fifty Over 50 brings together first-hand accounts from a diverse range of people living with HIV aged 50+, and highlights how for many in the HIV community being well is about more than just viral suppression, it’s also about living well.

Ben Lucas, Managing Director for MSD in the UK and Ireland, commented:

“I am immensely proud that MSD have worked with all the individual contributors and organisations that form part of Fifty Over 50 – providing a platform for people to share their experiences and shine a light on the changes that are needed to support people living with HIV to live well across the entirety of their life.”

Learn more about Fifty Over 50 and hear what our contributors had to share in the e-book here.

GB-NON-06155 | Date of Preparation: July 2022


Over 100 hours of volunteering – Employees ‘Give Back’

January 2023

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As part of MSD’s volunteering policy – employees attended a 2 day event with a London charity

In the first week of July, members of our Early Talent Forum, comprised of student placements, graduates, and apprentices, utilised MSD’s volunteering leave policy to collectively commit over 100 hours of volunteering at The Passage – London’s largest voluntary sector day centre for homeless and vulnerable people.

Across 2 days, they worked intensely to prepare food for a fundraising event. The sessions were held at The Passage’s Resource Centre in Westminster, where the charity provides immediate services like meals, showers, laundry, medical appointments, and substance misuse and mental health support.

Our volunteers were called upon to help preparations for The Passages annual Summer Garden Party. Rolling their sleeves up for two busy days of chopping, slicing, and dicing, our volunteers helped ready a buffet of food items, including hulling 250 punnets of strawberries, dicing over 200 onions, and packaging 200+ tubs of coleslaw, salad, and salsa.

The impact of their work was imminently felt. ‘We only have two permanent chefs’ Fran Hodge, Volunteering Manager at the Passage told our volunteers, ‘They’re fun and they run a tight ship.’ With only two days to go before the big event, and preparations to be made for over 500+ people, our early talent volunteers were eager and active in fulfilling their culinary duties.

The event was labelled a ‘gleaming success’ and fundraised for the hundreds of vulnerable people and rough sleepers the Passage aids, helping them to live safe, happy and fulfilling live.

Having completed his volunteering session feeling freshly fulfilled, ETF co-lead and volunteer co-ordinator, Sam Rogers, reflects on his experience ‘MSD’s volunteering policy speaks to something that is intrinsic to everyone in the company – a want to ‘give back’. We really want to thank all the wonderful people at The Passage. It was inspiring to see the passion and hard work behind what you do and rewarding for us to get an insight into your world and lend a helping hand’’

GB-NON-06233 | Date of Preparation: July 2022


Celebrating 10 years of the RTC Fellowship for Global Health

January 2023

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This year, 32 of our employees from around the world will be supporting the efforts of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) through our Richard T. Clark Fellowship for Global Health programme.

Every year, a cohort of global employees enrol onto the company’s three-month corporate pro bono programme. Through leveraging the skills and knowledge of our Fellows, the programme aims to assist our NGO partners in strengthening their capacity and reach with technical and human capital support; in turn providing increased access to health services, products and education to their local communities. Though the programme is only three months in length, the impact that the Fellowship has on the NGO partners, MSD in the UK, and its employees lasts long after the project’s completion.

2022 marks the tenth year of the Fellowship programme, and this year, thirty-two employees from 13 countries will serve as RTC Fellows from July 25th to October 7th. The Fellows will work in small cross-functional teams across 11 global projects, serving communities across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America in a diverse range of areas including clinical research, oncology, supply chain, and sexual health.

MSD in the UK is delighted that two of our employees, Nat Philips and Sara Khan, will be participating in this year’s Fellowship.

Always seeking new opportunities to grow, Internal Communications Senior Specialist Nat Philips is passionate about making a difference to the health outcomes to the populations that she works with:

‘The RTC Fellowship has been on my radar since I joined MSD in 2014, but it is only since it became a remote opportunity during COVID that I felt able to apply. I am excited to be able to join a programme where my knowledge and skills accrued across 25 years in the public and commercial sectors can be utilised to benefit others at a global scale; and I am curious to what I will learn from undertaking this project that will benefit my role at MSD when I return to work in October.’

With a background in primary care, Associate Director Medical Affairs Sara Khan is excited to make a difference through her work with the programme:

‘Prior to joining MSD, I was a Primary Care Physician with an interest in global and public health, and so when I first heard about the RTC Fellowship, I was immediately drawn to it and envisaged it being deeply rewarding. I also felt it would suit my skillset, meaning I could provide effective and impactful support to the NGOs that are part of the fellowship. I am excited about the programme starting, working in a small global team, and seeing what we can achieve during the 3-month programme!’

We wish Nat and Sara well on their Fellowship journeys, and look forward to hearing more about their experiences once they return!

GB-NON-06123 | Date of Preparation: June 2022