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Treatment for Rotavirus Gastroenteritis

Merck Submits Biologics License Application to FDA for Rotateq, an Investigational Vaccine for Rotavirus

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., April 11, 2005 - Merck & Co., Inc. announced today that it has submitted a Biologics License Application for Rotateq (rotavirus vaccine, live, oral, pentavalent) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rotateq is Merck's investigational vaccine to protect against rotavirus gastroenteritis. Rotateq is an oral, liquid vaccine that contains five human serotypes - G1, G2, G3, G4 and P1. These serotypes cause most rotavirus disease worldwide.

Merck submitted the application to the FDA on April 5 and also announced that it has plans to file for licensure of Rotateq in Australia, Canada, the EU and Mexico, as well as countries in Asia and Latin America in 2005. Within the next 60 days, the FDA will determine whether it will accept for review Merck's application as submitted.

About Rotavirus Gastroenteritis
Rotavirus causes approximately one-third of diarrhea-associated hospitalizations in developing countries and nearly half a million deaths worldwide every year in children under five. In the United States, rotavirus accounts for approximately 50,000 hospitalizations, 500,000 visits to primary care offices and 20-40 deaths annually. Although symptoms may vary, those typically associated with rotavirus gastroenteritis include vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and watery diarrhea which can persist for three to nine days. The severity of rotavirus gastroenteritis ranges from asymptomatic to dehydrating gastroenteritis that can be fatal. Incidence of rotavirus is similar in developed and developing countries, which suggests that differences in environment (e.g., clean water, hygiene or sanitation) do not affect incidence.

During the first few years of life, a child typically has several rotavirus infections. The highest rates of gastroenteritis are generally in children under two years of age, who are also at the greatest risk for severe disease. Nearly all children will be infected with rotavirus by age five. There are several different serotypes of rotavirus and the prevalence of these serotypes varies by geographic region and changes from season to season. Children gradually develop immunity against different strains of the virus after several infections.

About Merck
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines in more than 20 therapeutic categories. The company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service.

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Posted: April 2005

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