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06.06.2012 Africa

GPHF presents 500th Minilab to the Ghanaian Ministry of Health

By Merck KGaA
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ACCRA, Ghana, June 6, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ --

• Merck, has been providing compact laboratories for identifying counterfeit medicines since 1998

• To date, 21 Minilabs are in use in Ghana

Today, the Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF) donated a compact mobile laboratory for identifying counterfeit medicines to the Ghanaian Ministry of Health. It was the 500th lab that the GPHF, a charitable initiative financed by Merck (www.merckgroup.com), has provided to public and private health services in developing countries since 1998. Representing the Ministry of Health, Dr. Stephen K. Opuni, Chief Executive of the Ghana Food and Drugs Board, the agency charged with ensuring the quality of drugs in Ghana, received the Minilab in presence of Sylvester A. Mensah, Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority and Ghanaian-born professional soccer player Gerald Asamoah.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/merck_logo.jpg

“Counterfeit medicines pose a serious threat to health globally, , here in Ghana as well,” said Dr. Opuni. “In Ghana, 21 Minilabs are already being used, and each additional Minilab makes a valuable contribution to quality control of medicines.” Frank Gotthardt, Chairman of the GPHF and Head of Public Affairs at Merck, explained the advantage of the two suitcase-size lab units: “Many counterfeit medicines have no therapeutic benefit or sometimes even contain harmful substances. The GPHF Minilabs are globally unique for their ability to detect such counterfeits quickly, cost-effectively and reliably.” The International Criminal Police Organization Interpol estimates that 10% to 30% of all medicines in Africa are counterfeit or of inferior quality.

Gerald Asamoah, who played as a member of German soccer national team in 43 national matches and has to date played in more than 300 matches in the German Bundesliga, set up Gerald Asamoah Foundation for Children with Heart Conditions in 2007. This foundation supports German and international aid projects and has long-term plans to build a ward in Accra for children with heart conditions. Asamoah was impressed by the Minilabs' flexibility and said, “I'm amazed at how quickly and easily counterfeit medicines can be detected anywhere in the world using the analytical methods of the Minilab.” Asamoah was particularly pleased when Karim Bendhaou, Managing Director of Merck North West Africa, promised him an ultrasonic measuring device for the pediatric ward of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and said, “This device will be a blessing for many children.”

So far, the GHPF has donated the Minilabs it developed to more than 80 countries or delivered them at cost; approximately half of the 500 compact labs are being used in African countries. A Minilab consists of two portable and tropic-resistant suitcases and provides a large number of test methods for checking medicines for external abnormalities, identity and content. Currently, 57 active pharmaceutical ingredients can be tested, particularly those in medicines commonly used against infectious diseases. The test methods include those for common antibiotics, anthelmintics, virostatics, anti-malarial medicines, tuberculostatics and other medicines.

The combination of a simple, reliable test set for on-site testing and a manual with detailed instructions on conducting the tests is unique. The GPHF is also developing new test methods to be able to check even more medicines. In addition, it offers training to ensure that the users are familiar with the test methods.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Merck KGaA.

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=209 (In presence of the Ghanaian born famous football player Gerald Asamoah, the Global Pharma Health Fund donated the 500th minilab for identifying counterfeit medicines)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=210 (In presence of the Ghanaian born famous football player Gerald Asamoah, the Global Pharma Health Fund donated the 500th minilab for identifying counterfeit medicines)

Photo 3: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=211 (Merck NW Africa donates a sonograph to the Cardio Center of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra)

Photo 4: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=212 (Frank Gotthardt, Chairman of the GPHF and Head of Public Affairs at Merck KGaA, presented the 500th minilab to the Honorable Deputy Minister of Health Mr. Rojo Mettle Nunoo in presence of the famous football player Gerald Asamoah)

All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Website. Please go to http://www.merckgroup.com/subscribe to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

Merck (www.merckgroup.com) is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of € 10.3 billion in 2011, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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