MerckMerck (NYSE: MRK), known outside the United States and Canada as MSD, and Serum Institute of India Limited, an Indian company, announced an agreement to work together to develop and commercialize a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) for use in the emerging and developing world countries. It is estimated that one out of every two children immunized in the world is vaccinated by a vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute. In addition, Merck has developed more than one-third of the world's vaccines for children, adolescents and adults.

"Serum Institute is committed to improving access to and affordability of vaccines for children throughout the world," said Cyrus Poonawalla, CMD, Chairman, Serum Institute, "In working closely with Merck in the development of this collaboration it became clear that we share parallel public health goals and that our passion for getting vaccines to everyone who needs them is made even stronger by working together."

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other life-threatening ailments. Current estimates show that at least one million children die of pneumococcal disease every year, including mostly young children in developing countries.

"Working side by side with Serum gives us the best chance of developing and bringing a product to the market that will help to protect more babies and children," said Julie L. Gerberding, president, Merck Vaccines. "Expanding vaccine access to emerging and developing markets is a top priority and we feel strongly that this collaboration will be a giant step toward impacting the devastation of pneumococcal disease."

Together, Merck and Serum will form a Product Advisory Committee to oversee the activities required to develop and seek approval for PCV and pursue World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck, through an affiliate, will receive specific rights to market PCV in certain designated territories and Serum will receive specific rights in other territories. Both companies will contribute to the development and manufacture of PCV. Specific financial details of this agreement are confidential. This collaboration does not impact the on-going vaccine development programs in both the organizations.

About Merck
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships.

About Serum Institute
Serum Institute of India based in Pune/India today is the largest manufacturer of DTP and MMR Group of Vaccines and supplying its products to U.N. Agencies as also to more than 140 countries. The recent launch of MenAfriVacTM which was especially developed for Sub-Saharan Africa has been acknowledged by one and all related to the vaccine community. It is a policy and commitment of Serum Institute of India to make the new vaccines available at affordable prices to the children of developing world.