Health Awareness

Taking on lung cancer is worth the fight

May 12, 2022

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New Zealand advanced lung cancer survey

MSD recently undertook a survey in New Zealand to gain a greater understanding of the typical journey of a patient with advanced Lung Cancer. The survey focused on the communication, support and interactions that patients and/or their caregivers experienced throughout their journey.

MSD also sought to understand the journey from a healthcare professionals’ perspective. Seeking to identify areas where there were potentially gaps between the reality of the journey experienced by the patient, and/or their caregiver, and the perception of the healthcare professional.

There were 18 healthcare professionals surveyed, each were involved in the management of patients with lung cancer. Twenty (20) patients with advanced lung cancer, or caregivers of patients with a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer were also surveyed. Participants were recruited from throughout New Zealand via multiple channels.

Findings of the survey were relatively consistent with a similar survey carried out in the United States, commentary below relates to some of the outcomes of the New Zealand survey.

When first diagnosed, a third of people with advanced lung cancer (35%) think nothing can be done to treat their disease, and over half may feel overwhelmed, anxious or scared and without options.

A lung cancer diagnosis does not have to mean giving up. You can start by talking with your doctor to better understand the treatment options that might be right for you or your loved one.

1 in 4 New Zealand patient or caregiver survey participants reflected that for people with a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer deciding whether or not to undergo the treatment recommended by their doctor was one of the biggest challenges following diagnosis.

In the US survey, 2 in 5 advanced lung cancer patients responded the same, suggesting this is commonly a challenging time for patients, their caregivers and the healthcare professional regardless of what part of the world they live in.

A woman talking with a senior woman

Why we fight

A quote from a US survey participant:

‘After being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in 2013, I was told I only had a year to live. I just wanted quality time to enjoy the things I loved, instead of spending it in the hospital. Fortunately, a good friend reminded me that I have a lot to live for. I decided to fight back against lung cancer and talked to my oncologist about treatment options. Seven years, one wedding and three grandchildren later – my cancer has returned. But it’s never been clearer that it’s worth the fight.’

New Zealand advanced lung cancer survey findings

Finding out you have advanced lung cancer is stressful and it can be hard to absorb all the information shared. Conversations with your healthcare team may feel like a blur.

60%

New Zealand healthcare professionals surveyed believed that around 60% of their patients receive an advanced lung cancer diagnosis.

84%

The New Zealand survey showed that 8 out of 10 healthcare professionals (84%) felt it was easy for patients to ask questions when in the office.

45%

Approximately 4 out of 10 patients, or caregivers of a patient with advanced lung cancer (45%) reported they did not know what questions to ask.

1 in 4

people with advanced lung cancer said deciding whether or not to undergo the treatment recommended by their doctor was one of their biggest challenges following diagnosis.

How to fight

Take an active role in your health care by: 

  • Learning more about your cancer online or in the library  
  • Asking for a second opinion  
  • Joining a cancer support group or speaking to others who have been through a similar experience 

Here are three helpful tips:

1

Jot down a list of questions to ask your doctor or use the downloadable discussion guide below before appointments.

2

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re unsure or don’t understand something your doctor or nurse says.

3

Bring someone for support. They can listen and take notes when you speak with your health care team.

Partners to support you

The Cancer Society of New Zealand

The Cancer Society provides a range of support services for those affected by cancer and their whānau.

Find out how they can support you.
Cancer Society NZ — How we can help you

Contact their helpline

0800 CANCER (226 237)

Cancer Society logo

The information on this website should be discussed with your healthcare professional and does not replace their advice.

References:

MSD NZ Lung Cancer Survey DEC2021 Data on file

Last updated April 2022 NZ-NON-00260

Responsibility

MSD New Zealand – Auckland Office commits to 100% Green Energy for 2022

March 28, 2022

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MSD New Zealand – Auckland Office commits to 100% Green Energy for 2022.

GWES ANZ is excited to announce our Green Energy commitment by purchasing Certified Renewable Energy through our vendor MeridianEnergy.co.nz.

We are passionate about helping our commercial footprint decarbonize so that we can reach our ESG Goals, and enhance sustainability programmes at our sites; thereby providing a healthier future for our people and our patients.

The energy Meridian generates comes from 100% renewable sources. It is New Zealand’s largest generator and makes power through its wind farms, hydro stations and solar panels. That’s where the magic happens.

Watch the MSD Corporate Responsibility video here to understand how operating responsibly is fundamental to our long-term success, to our obligation to society, and to the health and well-being of our people and patients globally.
MSD is committed to be carbon neutral by 2025.

NZ-NON-00261 Last Updated March 2022

Our people

Fostering opportunities for our future leaders through internships

March 15, 2022

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Ever considered an internship at MSD Australia & New Zealand? Find out more from Bree Aiono and her recent summer internship at MSD New Zealand.

Kia ora,

I was fortunate to intern with MSD this summer as a TupuToa intern in the Market Access team.

Market Access has a branch of responsibilities, one of them being helping to provide timely access to medicines within the community.

“Part of my role was to provide a Pacific peoples perspective to the access of treatments.”

Company culture especially during COVID-19 is difficult, but an aspect I enjoyed about MSD, is that the company continues to foster that culture virtually. The inclusivity during meetings and continual celebration of big and small wins as a company, broke the barrier of working virtually.

“The inclusivity during meetings and continual celebration of big and small wins as a company, broke the barrier of working virtually.”

My highlight, overall, has been the opportunity to grow in this role. Reflecting on my internship, I’ve been able to enter workshops, and meetings as well as research and analyse pieces of information, all of which have been key components to my learning. At the end of my internship, I was able to share my findings with the company, which I found was very rewarding for my growth.

A piece of advice I would give to interns entering MSD, is to be confident in who you are. When I applied for this internship, I was unsure if my knowledge and cultural connection was adequate for the position. However, I found that my ideas and views upon aspects of health was different. Being able to embrace your differences and showcase disruptive thinking is important for a diverse health delivery system. At MSD your ideas and opinions are really valued.

Ngā mihi,

Bree Aiono

NZ-NON-00257 Last Updated March 2022


Our people

Putting the Parents back in Parental Leave

July 26, 2021

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At MSD, we believe that a good work/life balance is the key to a healthier, happier workplace. We also recognise that the need for life balance is never more important than when a family grows. Whether it’s a first child or the addition of new brothers or sisters, it is always a pivotal moment in life. So, at MSD we’ve always encouraged parents to take the
leave that most suits them and their growing families.

Talk is cheap

We understand the role MSD has to play in helping make these things happen, so we are playing our part with a complete rework of our parental leave options. Previously, paid parental leave was 14 weeks paid at 50% salary (paid in two lump sum payments). This has been replaced with up to 12 weeks parental leave at full pay (and paid as per their usual salary pay days).

Caregiver-status neutral

Employees were previously entitled to paid parental leave in line with their ‘Primary’ or ‘Support’ caregiver status. We have removed the primary/support labels meaning all parents will now be entitled to up to 12 weeks paid parental
leave, and should they choose, they can take the leave at the same time.

Increased flexibility

Previously, paid parental leave had to be taken before the child’s first birthday. MSD employees can now access the leave up to the child’s second birthday, or within two years from the date of the adoption, to provide flexibility to suit the different needs of parents and their families.

Keeping the idea simple

Our intention is to help new parents give their best efforts to their growing family, so we didn’t want ‘compliance’ complicating it. For that, we’ve done our best to keep things simple and removed the qualifying periods for parental
leave. As such, employees are now able to access paid parental leave upon commencement with MSD (previously eligible after 6 months employment). There will also be no re-qualifying period (the length of time an employee had to
be back at work before re-qualifying).

It’s just the right thing to do

We are proud of our reputation as a family-friendly employer, and we recognise how important it is for our employees to spend time caring for their families.

Proprietary

We also understand the role that this initiative has to play in achieving gender equality, both inside and outside of the workplace, and we know that Parental Leave is a key driver in achieving gender equal outcomes.

NZ-NON-00203 Last Updated September 2021

Our people

Tipu – To Grow

July 26, 2021

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It was a clear, cool morning and we were gathered outside the bright red and intricately carved entrance to
Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa Marae. The sound of a conch shell centred our attention to the whare nui (meeting house) and slowly we walked onto the marae grounds to the karanga (formal call of welcome). For a day we left the comfort of our desks, emails and scheduled meetings to learn about te reo Māori (Māori language) and tikanga Māori (Māori culture). At best we hoped that the song we had to sing together in support or our whaikorero (speaker) was over quickly; that our teachers would gently repeat words, enunciating each vowel sound patiently to a point that our sounds and their sounds were not so different; and that on conclusion of the day would have a few words of Māori under our belt and a nugget of cultural enlightenment.


What we learnt was far more precious. Within the security of the whare nui we shared stories, we sought to understand cultural belief systems that impact our customers and we ignited an appetite to learn more. As a team we connected and supported each other.


Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa
Let us keep close together, not wide apart


This whakatauki (proverb) speaks to the importance of keeping connected, of maintaining relationships and dialogue so that we can keep moving forward together.

NZ-NON-00202 Last Updated September 2021

Our people

Introducing our global hybrid working model

June 16, 2021

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Over the last year, the global pandemic has created profound challenges — for the world, for our industry, for our own families. We are proud and grateful to see how the people of our company have looked out for each other and carried out our urgent mission on behalf of our customers and patients.

It is clear that, even after the pandemic is over, the kind of agility we’ve learned over the last year will remain central to the way we work together.

We recognize that many of our employees have valued the flexibility to work remotely when possible. Working remotely can, in many cases, enhance efficiency — especially when it comes to “heads-down,” individual work. At the same time, we know that many of our employees have missed the opportunity to meet and collaborate in person. And we fundamentally believe in-person collaboration is critical to our mission, our ability to innovate as one team, and our ability to drive an inclusive, collaborative culture across our global enterprise.

Our new hybrid working model

That’s why we’re pleased to introduce a hybrid working model for office-based colleagues around the world. A hybrid working model is a combination of in-person collaboration and remote work. This model will help us be even more agile and productive as we deliver outcomes for the people who depend on our work. It will include enhanced flexibility to better meet employee needs, while allowing managers to decide when in-person collaboration is necessary. We also believe it will help us attract and retain high-caliber, diverse talent. 

Our in-person employees

Around the world, many colleagues at our manufacturing sites, labs and other facilities have been working in-person throughout the pandemic. These colleagues will continue to do so, and we are deeply grateful for their contributions. Likewise, our teams in the field will remain located near their customers.

Health and safety remain top of mind

In some geographies, progress in the fight against COVID-19 has already allowed our office-based colleagues to return to in-person collaboration. Still, in many other places, the fight is ongoing, and the state of the pandemic continues to vary locally. In those locations, site leadership teams are hard at work developing practical plans to re-open our offices once local conditions allow. 

NZ-NON-00201 Last Updated September 2021

Health Awareness

Working together to detect lung cancer earlier

Vicki Goodman, vice president, therapeutic area head, oncology late-stage development, reports on encouraging progress in lung cancer screening around the world

June 16, 2021

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I’ve seen great progress made against lung cancer in the past two decades of my career advancing cancer research. Yet lung cancer remains the deadliest cancer worldwide, accounting for nearly 1-in-5 cancer-related deaths.

When lung cancer is detected early, there is a greater chance of survival. We must focus on screenings to improve the rates of early diagnosis.

Benefits of screening

Data show that routine screenings for people at high risk for lung cancer can save lives. In 2019, a Dutch-Belgian trial found that among current and former smokers in Europe, the use of low-dose CT scans, a common type of lung cancer screening test, reduced mortality rates after 10 years of screening. 

Global action

Based on the growing body of evidence linking screening to improved survival, many countries are prioritizing lung cancer initiatives and making progress in establishing formal screening programs:

New Zealand map

New Zealand: In 2021, the first trial of lung cancer screening in New Zealand began. The trial, a collaborative effort between the University of Otago and Waitematā District Health Board, in collaboration with Auckland District Health Board, screens up to 500 Māori people at high risk of lung cancer, aged between 55 and 74 years.

UK map

United Kingdom: The National Health Service started offering targeted lung health checks in 2019 in regions with the highest lung cancer mortality rates. And in 2020, the UK National Screening Committee began evaluating policy recommendations for a national screening program.

Australia map

Australia: In 2019, the Minister of Health initiated an enquiry on the prospects, implementation and delivery of a national lung cancer screening program. The resulting report proposed a four-year nationwide lung cancer screening program to start in 2021. The program focuses on equity, prioritizing the need to reach certain at-risk populations, such as smokers, as well as those living in rural and remote areas.

Canada map


Canada: 
Various jurisdictions are working to implement regional lung cancer screening programs. In 2020, British Columbia became the first jurisdiction to implement a full-scale organized lung cancer screening program, targeting adults ages 55-74 who smoke or have a heavy smoking history.

We can help

As lung cancer screening programs expand around the world, we can all do our part to improve screening rates by encouraging people who are at high risk of the disease to get screened if they’re eligible. 

By supporting one another and standing together, we will continue to drive advances against lung cancer.

References:
International Agency for Research on Cancer 2020: Global Cancer Observatory. Lung Cancer Fact Sheet. Global Cancer Observatory. Lung Cancer Fact Sheet. Accessed on 17/12/20 https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/cancers/15-Lung-fact-sheet.pdf Accessed on 17/12/20
Cancer Australia 2021: Lung Cancer Screening Available at: https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/about-us/lung-cancer-screening Accessed on 08/09/21
National Health Service (NHS) 2019: The NHS Long Term Plan Available at: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/nhs-long-term-plan-june-2019.pdf Accessed on 08/09/21
BC Cancer 2020: B.C. launches lung cancer screening program – the first in Canada. Available at: http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/about/news-stories/news/2020/b-c-launches-lung-cancer-screening-program-%E2%80%93-the-first-in-canada Accessed on 08/09/21

New England Journal of Medicine 2020: Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Volume CT Screening in a Randomized Trial. Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1911793 Access on 21/10/2021
The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) 2020: Optimising lung cancer screening for Māori: comparing invitation processes Available at: https://www.hrc.govt.nz/resources/research-repository/optimising-lung-cancer-screening-maori-comparing-invitation-processes Access on 21/10/2021
Auckland District Health Board: A welcome boost to Māori-led lung cancer screening programme Available at: https://www.adhb.health.nz/about-us/latest-stories/maori-led-lung-cancer-screening/ Accessed on 26/10/21

TAPS NZ 13280 NZ-NON-00178 Last Updated October 2021

Health Awareness

Understanding melanoma: The signs, symptoms and risk factors

June 16, 2021

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What is melanoma?

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Characterised by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells, melanoma accounts for approximately 2% of new cancer cases worldwide.

Melanomas can occur anywhere on the skin, including areas without sun exposure, but they are more likely to start in certain locations.

Illustration of common sites

The average age of diagnosis is 65, but melanoma is not uncommon among people younger than 30. In fact, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults — especially young women.

Rates have been rising for 30 years

In 2020, it's estimated that there were more than
324,000

new melanoma cases worldwide

and approximately
57,000

deaths

Signs and symptoms

A new spot on the skin or one that changes in size, shape or color, or one that looks different — is an important warning sign of melanoma and should be checked by a doctor. The ABCDE rule outlines the characteristics of moles that may be melanomas and is helpful guidance for monitoring skin changes:

A is for Asymmetry

One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

B is for Border

The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.

C is for Color

The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

D is for Diameter

The spot is more than 6 millimeters across (about 1/4 inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

E is for Evolving

The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Any of these warning signs should be discussed with a doctor, especially if you feel you are at risk for melanoma.

Risk factors

  • Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
  • Moles
  • Fair skin, freckles and light hair
  • Family history
  • Personal history of having melanoma or other skin cancers
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Being older
  • Being male
  • Xeroderma pigmentosum (a rare skin condition that affects the skin’s ability to repair DNA damage)

Ways to lower risk

Melanoma can’t be entirely prevented, but there are ways to lower risk. The number one way to lower risk is to protect against UV rays, which damage the DNA of skin cells and impact the genes that control skin cell growth. The top source of UV rays is the sun. That’s why it’s important to practice sun safety every time you go outside, even on cloudy days when UV rays can still shine through. Here are a few ways to protect yourself:

Seek shade

UV exposure is greatest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you need to be outside during these hours, seek shade – under a tree, an umbrella or an awning.

Wear a hat

Try to find a hat with a wide brim – at least 2 or 3 inches wide – to protect your face, top of the head, ears and neck.

Cover up

Choose clothing with a tight knit or weave, and avoid shirts that you can see through. Remember, if light is getting through, then UV rays are too.

Use sunscreen

Use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30, and has the AS/NZ 2604 standard on the label.

Wear sunglasses

Protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them. Pick a pair that will block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.

References:
Summa Health: Skin Cancer 2020 Available at: https://www.summahealth.org/medicalservices/cancer/cancer-care/skin-cancer Accessed on 17/03/2021
American Cancer Society: What is melanoma skin cancer? Available at: https://www.cancer.org Accessed on 17/03/2021
International Agency for Research on Cancer: Melanoma of skin Fact Sheet. Global Cancer Observatory. Available at: https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/cancers/16-Melanoma-of-skin-fact-sheet.pdf Accessed on 8/03/2021
American Cancer Society: Key statistics for melanoma skin cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.org Accessed on 17/03/21
American Cancer Society: Risk factors for melanoma skin cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.org Accessed on 17/03/21
American Cancer Society: Signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.org Accessed on 17/03/21
American Cancer Society: Can melanoma skin cancer be prevented?. Available at: https://www.cancer.org Accessed on 17/03/21
American Cancer Society: How do I protect myself from ultraviolet (UV) rays? Available at: https://www.cancer.org Accessed on 17/03/21
Cancer Society New Zealand: SunSmart https://www.cancer.org.nz Accessed on 26/10/21

TAPS NA 13280 NZ-NON-00208 Last Updated October 2021

Innovation

Women in science? Absolutely.

Strong career paths and cutting-edge science draw more women to our small molecule process R&D team

June 15, 2021

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Women have historically been underrepresented in the field of process research and development – the space between drug discovery and manufacturing.  However, over the past six years, the percentage of women on our company’s small molecule process research & development team (SM PR&D) team has nearly doubled.

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“This progress is important because it reflects our mindset that diversity and inclusion fuel creativity and innovation.”

Jamie McCabe Dunn

director, process chemistry

“Our group today looks dramatically different than it did when I first started 11 years ago because we’ve taken steps to build more diverse teams,” says Jamie.

And, female biologists, chemists and engineers are vital to our success.

“While we have come a long way in the last decade, achieving greater gender equity must continue to be a priority for all leaders,” says Kevin Campos, associate vice president.

One successful approach has been for women leaders to take more active roles in recruiting talent. This allows for greater relationship building among female candidates and provides a vision for growth opportunities at our company.

“We’re also expanding relationships with more academic institutions and casting a wider net to find excellent talent,” says Jamie. “As more women join the company and see the strong career paths open to them, we expect to see even greater diversity.”

Forging her path in a male-dominated field

Fifteen years ago, when Marguerite Mohan joined our company, she was one of a small group of women on the team. Although not different from what she experienced academically, she recalls being asked whether she thought this environment would limit her.

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“I had no concerns being in the gender minority…I knew I was here because of my ability.”

Marguerite Mohan

executive director, chemical engineering, SM PR&D

“I loved being a chemical engineer and wanted to apply my skills where I’d make an impact on people’s lives. The interface of research and manufacturing was a great place to start,” says Marguerite.

Tasked with developing and scaling up processes to safely, innovatively and robustly produce drug candidates for clinical trials and commercial use — these teams deliver for patients through cutting-edge science. They challenge the status-quo and try new things. That’s also how they recognize and develop talent.

“We’re committed to making sure everyone’s voice is heard and respected. This has allowed women to frame what technical growth looks like from our point of view, bringing diversity of thought to the problem- solving and leadership table,” says Marguerite. “By challenging the status quo, we’re creating stronger, more innovative teams filled with unique scientific talent.”

A new generation of scientists

Niki Patel and Cindy Hong joined our company within the past four years — both drawn, in part, to our reputation as a scientific leader committed to improving human health.

Photo from a lab showing equations on glass
A woman scientist working in a lab

“I was very aware of the team’s novel and innovative science through publications in high-profile, peer- reviewed journals and presentations at conferences. This was a place where I wanted to do great science,” says Niki, associate principal scientist. 

It was also a place where both knew they’d fit in.

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“As a female graduate student, I was definitely outnumbered. But, when I interviewed here, I saw such diversity on the teams – including at leadership levels."

Cindy Hong

senior scientist

“I knew this environment was right for me,” says Cindy. “I’ve worked with great female and male leaders since joining the company and been exposed to many different areas of expertise. I see real opportunities for growth.”

Strong networks fuel continued growth

Strong networks and outreach are important to not only maintain a pipeline to potential female candidates but also retain and promote those already on the team.  They can include things like collaborative communities, mentor programs, publishing papers or grassroots efforts.

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“We’re empowered to take steps to support women in this field.”

Niki Patel

associate principal scientist

“For example, I’ve helped organize forums to discuss topics on diversity and inclusion and participated in career panels geared toward supporting women and underrepresented groups in the field,” says Niki.

Sometimes, that support might simply be a quick note of recognition.

 “I try to acknowledge micro-accomplishments in the moment – things that seem small but are important to that person,’” says Marguerite. “It’s a simple, personal way to show someone they — and their work — matter.”

Can women have a successful career in PR&D?  Absolutely. 

As Marguerite says, “Know your core, be true to it and value what makes you a unique asset.”

a scientist in a lab

Are you interested in a career in R&D?

NZ-NON-00199 Last Updated September 2021