Merck Healthcare

Merck Serono Supports 7th International Thyroid Awareness Week to Unmask Hypothyroidism

Darmstadt, Germany (ots/PRNewswire) -

- Hypothyroidism is a disease affecting millions which often goes
- Symptoms of hypothyroidism often mistaken for other diseases

Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck, today announced the support of 7th International Thyroid Awareness Week (ITAW). This year's campaign launched today for ITAW is aimed at alerting millions of people across the world that they could be unknowingly living with a debilitating and potentially fatal condition. The condition called hypothyroidism affects just under 4% of the general population, however the prevalence is estimated to be much higher. Hypothyroidism occurs due to an under-active thyroid gland, which fails to produce enough thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine).[1],[2]

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Low levels of these hormones can cause slowing of heart rate, feeling tired and physically cold, having trouble with constipation.[1] Depression and weight gain are also very common symptoms.[1] In addition, fertility can be adversely affected.[3] An underactive thyroid gland, when left untreated, can in extreme cases eventually lead to coma and even death.[1],[4]

The new campaign is supported by Merck Serono together with Thyroid Federation International (TFI), and will run during International Thyroid Awareness Week, which takes place from May 25 to 31, 2015. The campaign is entitled HYPOTHRYOIDISM - UNMASKING THE CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS.

Ashok Bhaseen, President of Thyroid Federation International, said: "Thyroid disease is very common with an estimated 300 million currently affected and 1.6 billion people at risk of thyroid conditions globally. It is estimated that over 50% of those affected could be unaware of it."

He added: "The thyroid is a small organ, but it has a big impact. Hypothyroidism causes a great deal of suffering with many people just putting up with the symptoms. I personally welcome this awareness campaign to shine a light on hypothyroid disease and reduce the unnecessary suffering that too many are enduring every day."

Part of the campaign will emphasize that recognizing hypothyroidism is difficult because the symptoms can be easily explained away or be masquerading as another disease.[4]

Thyroid disorders are ten times more common in women than in men[5] and there are certain times in a woman's life that make her more vulnerable to thyroid disorders,[1] such as during pregnancy[6],[7] and menopause.[8]

The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness of hypothyroidism to encourage people to recognize the symptoms and seek medical help.

Meeta Gulyani, Head of Strategy and Global Franchises at Merck's biopharmaceutical division Merck Serono said: "Merck Serono is delighted to be part of the International Thyroid Awareness Week which is now an established and highly regarded global awareness campaign endorsed by the American Thyroid Association (ATA), the European Thyroid Association (ETA), the Latin American Thyroid Society (LATS) and the Chinese Society of Endocrinology (CSE)."

"Our mission at Merck Serono is to transform lives through medical science and patients' needs are central to all we do. We are proud to be raising awareness of hypothyroidism in this campaign with the aim of reducing suffering for many people," she added.

The initiatives website has been updated with this year's campaign and provides further information on thyroid diseases in general including hypothyroidism

About Thyroid Federation International (TFI)

Thyroid Federation International first convened in Toronto at the 11th International Thyroid Congress in September 1995. Diana Meltzer Abramsky, who in 1980 founded the Thyroid Foundation of Canada in Kingston, Ontario Canada, first advocated the vision of a world thyroid patient organization to deal with the problems of thyroid disease in a global perspective. Since then the Federation has grown to include thyroid organizations in many parts of the world, including Europe, North and South America, Australia and Japan. TFI is an independent, worldwide network of patient-support organizations. The Federation works together for the benefit of those affected by thyroid disorders by providing information and raising awareness, by encouraging and assisting the formation of patient-oriented groups, and by working closely with the medical professions. TFI has a Medical Advisory Board, which consists of some of the most eminent thyroid specialists in the world. For more information, please visit

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical business of Merck. With headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck Serono offers leading brands in 150 countries to help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, endocrine and metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular diseases. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated subsidiary of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. We have an enduring commitment to deliver novel therapies in our core focus areas of neurology, oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.

For more information, please visit

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Merck is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials. The company has six businesses - Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Allergopharma, Biosimilars, Merck Millipore and Performance Materials - and generated sales of around EUR 11.3 billion in 2014. Around 39,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to foster the success of customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company - since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.


1. British Thyroid Foundation. Your Thyroid Gland. Available at: Last accessed March 2015.

2. Aoki Y, et al. 2007. Serum TSH and total T4 in the United States population and their association with participant characteristics: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1999-2002). Thyroid. 17(12):1211-23. doi: 10.1089/thy.2006.0235.

3. British Thyroid Foundation. Hypothyroidism. Available at: Last Accessed March 2015

4. Garber JR, et al. 2012. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Hypothyroidism in Adults: Cosponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association. Available at: Last accessed March 2015.

5. British Thyroid Association. 2006. UK Guidelines for the Use of Thyroid Function Tests. Available at: . Last accessed March 2015.

6. National Women's Health Resource Center. 2006. Thyroid Disorder and Women. Available at: Last accessed March 2015.

7. The Endocrine Society. Management of Thyroid Dysfunction During Pregnancy and Postpartum: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 97: 2543-2565, 2012.

8. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. 2013. Thyroid Hormone Missing from Menopause Discussion for Millions of Women. Available at: . Last accessed March 2015.



Bettina Frank
Phone +49-6151-72-4660

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