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Merck-Medco and the American College of Gastroenterology Join Forces to Improve Care for Digestive Health Condition Sufferers.

FRANKLIN LAKES--(BW HealthWire)--Oct. 15, 1999--

Merck-Medco Managed Care, L.L.C., announced today that it will team with the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) to improve care for its members who suffer from digestive health conditions, and to raise awareness of gastrointestinal diseases through Merck-Medco's Digestive Health Solutions(TM) health management program.

ACG estimates that gastroesophogeal reflux disease or GERD (heartburn), peptic ulcer disease (ulcers), dyspepsia (indigestion), and gastrointestinal complications caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) affect more than 95 million Americans, causing over 10 million hospitalizations each year and costing over $40 billion annually.

Merck-Medco offers a complete line of comprehensive health management programs. Digestive Health Solutions - which is free to members - is designed to optimize patient care and reduce gastrointestinal drug spend trend by providing interventions that focus on the four diseases named above.

"Merck-Medco's Digestive Health Solutions increases patients' understanding of gastrointestinal conditions, and focuses on continuing physician education to advance the best practices in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders," said ACG President, Dr. Christina M. Swawicz. "We're pleased to collaborate with Merck-Medco on programs that are consistent with our mission to improve care for these all too common medical conditions."

As part of the collaboration, an ACG clinician will serve on the Merck-Medco medical advisory board to provide clinical guidance and expertise. In addition, eligible Merck-Medco members will have the opportunity to join the ACG Institute as patient members by registering for this benefit on the Company's Internet web site, Merck-Medco Managed Care Online(TM). Through this service, members will have access to new and archived ACG materials. Merck-Medco will underwrite the cost of ACG patient membership.

Merck-Medco and ACG will also jointly develop a public health education radio campaign to increase digestive health awareness.

"Many patients with these conditions are either receiving inappropriate therapies or are not being treated at all," said Paul Greenberg, M.D., who oversees Merck-Medco's Digestive Health Solutions program. "So, there are significant opportunities to work with patients and physicians to improve care and control overall medical costs. They are the major goals of this program."

The Digestive Health Solutions(TM) program receives partial funding from AstraZeneca, and is available to patients on any brand of treatment for digestive disorders.

ACG was formed in 1932 to advance the scientific study and medical treatment of gastrointestinal tract disorders. The College promotes the highest standards in medical education and is guided by its commitment to meeting the needs of clinical gastroenterology practitioners.

Merck-Medco Managed Care, L.L.C., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., is the nation's leading provider of high-quality, affordable prescription drug care, serving benefit plans of employers, unions, commercial and government health plans that provide benefits to more than 51 million Americans, including more than 14 million retirees. Merck-Medco Rx Services, its mail service pharmacy subsidiary, serves patients through 13 state-of-the-art mail service pharmacies, and its PAID Prescriptions, L.L.C., subsidiary manages prescriptions dispensed at 55,000 community pharmacies nationwide.

Visit Merck-Medco Managed Care Online(TM) at www.merck-medco.com.

Additional information about Merck-Medco and the American College of Gastroenterology is available on the World Wide Web at www.merck-medco.com and at www.acg.gi.org. You can also visit the Merck-Medco Online News Room, which was designed to provide members of the news media with quick and easy access to the latest information on Merck-Medco. Here you'll find Merck-Medco news releases, fact sheets, and other background information.
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Date:Oct 15, 1999
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