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LEADING INTERNATIONAL HEALTH OFFICIALS AND SCIENTISTS JOIN

 LEADING INTERNATIONAL HEALTH OFFICIALS AND SCIENTISTS JOIN
 -- PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER
 -- DR. HIROSHI NAKAJIMA, DIRECTOR GENERAL, W.H.O.
 -- DR. P. ROY VAGELOS, CHAIRMAN, MERCK & CO., INC.
 IN MARKING SUCCESSFUL 5 YEARS OF DRUG DONATION PROGRAM
 TO CONTROL RIVER BLINDNESS
 -- Disease afflicts 17 million people, threatens 90 million
 -- A leading cause of blindness in developing world
 WHAT: Press briefing (1 p.m.) national news conference
 (6:30 p.m.) and all-day symposium to mark the fifth year of
 the Mectizan (ivermectin) drug donation program for the
 treatment and control of river blindness -- a special
 venture bringing together the public and private sectors in
 a unique cooperative effort.
 PRESS BRIEFING - 1 p.m. - Sept. 23
 Hotel Macklowe
 145 W. 44th Street
 New York City
 -- Dr. William Foege, executive director of the Carter
 Center; former director of the Centers for Disease Control
 -- Dr. William C. Campbell, former Merck scientist and
 discoverer of ivermectin
 -- Honorable Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, minister of
 health, Federal Republic of Nigeria
 -- International health officials and scientists
 participating in the river blindness program
 NOTE: Professor Ransome-Kuti will deliver the keynote address (at 9:50 a.m.) of an all-day symposium to be held, starting at 9 a.m., in the Hudson Theatre at the Hotel Macklowe. Journalists are invited to attend.
 PRESS CONFERENCE - 6:30 p.m. - Sept. 23
 United Nations
 United Nations Press Room, 2nd floor
 45th Street & First Avenue
 New York City
 -- President Jimmy Carter
 -- Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, director general, W.H.O.
 -- Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, chairman, Merck & Co., Inc.
 (Principals will be available to the media for one-on-one
 interviews.)
 BACKGROUND: In 1987, Merck & Co., Inc. announced that it would donate the drug Mectizan, or ivermectin, wherever needed, for as long as needed, to treat a tropical disease known as onchocerciasis, or river blindness. The World Health Organization has termed the disease an "ancient scourge," and lists it among the most devastating of all tropical diseases, and a leading cause of blindness in the developing world.
 River blindness afflicts an estimated 17 million people in 32 tropical countries. It threatens 90 million, according to W.H.O. Experts say more than a million people suffer blindness or visual impairment so severe as to interfere with normal daily activities, often making work impossible.
 The donation program has proven to be a unique and pioneering venture that has stimulated a wide collaboration between the private and public sectors. To date, an estimated 4 million have received Mectizan and, by the end of this year, it is expected that nearly 10 million tablets will have been shipped.
 CONTACT: Art Kaufman of Merck & Co., Inc., 908-594-6878, or Lisa Vanella or Lee Bergman, of Robert Marston and Associates, Inc., 212-371-2200, for Merck & Co.
 -0- 9/18/92


CO: Merck & Co., Inc. ST: New Jersey, New York IN: MTC SU:

KD-OS -- NY044 -- 1157 09/18/92 13:25 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 18, 1992
Words:475
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