Innovative HIV-AIDS Treatment ISENTRESS(TM) now available to Canadian First Nations



    MONTREAL, Oct. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian First Nations people living with
HIV-AIDS will now have access to ISENTRESS(TM) (raltegravir), the first of a
new class of antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV-AIDS through Health
Canada's Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program. The NIHB program provides
coverage for health-related needs for First Nations, Inuit and Aboriginal
people.
    "The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network welcomes the release of new
medications to treat HIV, " said Ken Barlow, CEO. "CAAN continues to encourage
Aboriginal people living with HIV-AIDS to seek medical advice and get informed
about medical advancements that can help manage their illness."
    This inclusion in the NIHB list of medication is particularly relevant
because the overall HIV infection rate among Aboriginal persons is almost
three times higher than among non-Aboriginal Canadians, making need for new
treatment options that target the HIV virus in new ways critical.(1)

    About ISENTRESS(TM)

    ISENTRESS(TM) (raltegravir) was approved by Health Canada in November
2007 for use in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment
of HIV-1 infection in treatment-experienced adult patients who have evidence
of viral replication and HIV-1 strains resistant to multiple antiretroviral
agents. Raltegravir attacks the HIV virus in a way that's different to other
available antiretroviral treatments. It is the only drug approved that blocks
the action of integrase, an enzyme that is critical to the HIV replication
process. By targeting the integrase enzyme, raltegravir limits the ability of
the virus to replicate and infect new cells. Used in combination with other
antiretroviral agents, raltegravir has been shown to be effective at both
reducing viral load to undetectable levels and raising CD4 cell count in
people living with HIV-AIDS who were previously treated with other
antiretroviral agents. Raltegravir is administered as a single 400 mg tablet
taken twice daily with or without food with other HIV medications.(2)

    
    About HIV-AIDS in Canada

    - As of June 2006, 61,423 people in Canada have tested positive for HIV.
      Of these people, 83.5% are male and 16.5% are female.(3)
    - Of the estimated 58,000 people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2005
      in Canada, approximately 27% were unaware of their HIV status.(4)
    - The number of new HIV infections in 2005 has not decreased and may have
      increased slightly compared to 2002 .(3)
    - In Canada, 11 new people are infected with HIV every day.(5)

    Merck Frosst's Commitment to HIV Research

    Merck Frosst is committed to developing innovative therapies that offer
advances in the treatment of infectious diseases - including HIV. The
Company's efforts to develop investigational treatments for HIV-AIDS have been
under way for more than 20 years and continue today. We began our HIV
integrase inhibitor research in 1993 and were the first to demonstrate
inhibition of HIV integrase in vitro and in vivo.

    Merck's commitment to providing access to treatment

    Merck is committed to ensuring access to our antiretroviral medicines
(ARVs) through a differential pricing policy that provides our ARVs at
dramatically lower prices-at which Merck does not profit-to people living in
the world's least developed countries and those hardest hit by the pandemic,
as defined by various United Nations indices. Also, Merck is committed to
seeking additional ways to reduce the cost of its ARVs for people living in
the world's poorest countries and those hardest hit by the pandemic, including
through partnering with external manufacturers and suppliers to achieve
incremental efficiencies and cost savings.

    About Merck Frosst Canada Ltd.

    At Merck Frosst, patients come first. Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. is a
research-driven pharmaceutical company discovering, developing and marketing a
broad range of innovative medicines and vaccines to improve human health.
Merck Frosst is one of the top 25 R&D investors in Canada, with an investment
of close to $110 million in 2007. More information about Merck Frosst and
ISENTRESS(TM) is available at www.merckfrosst.com.

    Forward-looking statement

    This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is
defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These
statements are based on management's current expectations and involve risks
and uncertainties, which may cause results to differ materially from those set
forth in the statements. The forward-looking statements may include statements
regarding product development, product potential or financial performance. No
forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ
materially from those projected. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly
update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information,
future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release
should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Merck's
business, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements in Item 1A
of Merck's Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2007, and in its periodic
reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K, which the Company incorporates by
reference.

    (TM) Trademark of Merck & Co., Inc., used under license.

    References:

    1. Public Health Agency of Canada. HIV/AIDS Epi Updates. August 2006
    2. ISENTRESSTM product monograph
    3. Public Health Agency of Canada. HIV and AIDS in Canada; Surveillance
       Report to June 30, 2006. November 2006
    4. Public Health Agency of Canada. HIV/AIDS Epi Updates. August 2006
    5. http://www.farha.qc.ca/en/html/sidaqc.html Last accessed September 26,
       2008.
    




For further information:

For further information: Martine Drolet, Merck Frosst Canada Ltd., (514)
428-3037, (514) 833-6780


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