AMR awareness week 2022: MSD and the "ONE Health" approach - Interpharma

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23 November 2022

AMR awareness week 2022: MSD and the “ONE Health” approach

In the fight against antibiotic resistance, the research-based pharmaceutical industry is taking responsibility and researching new antibiotics despite difficult conditions. In part 3 of our series, we present MSD’s commitment.

The One Health approach is a pathway to collaboratively improve health and sustainability for the people and animals that share our complex and ever-changing environment. Multidisciplinary approaches are needed at the local, national and global levels to prevent, detect and respond to issues at the interfaces between humans, animals and the environment. MSD has expertise in both, human and animal health, and is thus a key partner in many multisectoral initiatives with a strong focus on One Health.

Prevention of diseases in animals and humans is a key component of any One Health approach. By adopting preventive strategies, we can improve human and animal health and well-being—and advance public health.

Pursuing a ONE Health approach is important to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) due to several factors:

  1. With the growth of the human population, more people are living in close contact with wild and domestic animals. Animals play an important role in our lives, whether for food, clothing, livelihoods, transport, sport, education or companionship. Close contact with animals and their environment poses more risks for the transmission of diseases between animals and humans. In fact, 60% of existing human infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin.
  2. Disruptions in land use, environmental conditions and habitats have created new health issues and opportunities for diseases to pass between animals and humans.
  3. The increase in international movement of humans, animals and animal products has increased the probability and speed of spreading diseases across borders and around the globe.

For over 100 years, our company has played a leading role in addressing AMR, not only discovering and developing medicines and vaccines to treat and prevent infectious diseases in humans and animals, but also supporting responsible use of these products. We are committed to advancing antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). AMS involves multi-disciplinary efforts to systematically improve antimicrobial use with the ultimate goals of optimizing outcomes and minimizing the unintended consequences of antimicrobial use.

“As one of the only biopharmaceutical companies focused on both human and animal health, and in recognition of the connection between the health of people and animals and our shared environment, MSD applies a One Health approach to our mission to save and improve lives.”

Dr. Ans Heirman, Managing Director MSD Switzerland

We support programs and policies that take a One Health approach to achieve optimal health outcomes for people, animals and our environment.  

Our Work in One Health


Prevention of diseases in animals and humans is a key component of any One Health approach. Our company has a broad pipeline and portfolio of vaccines and technologies to help prevent both human and animal diseases, including zoonotic diseases. By adopting preventative strategies, we can improve human and animal health and well-being—and advance public health.

Surveillance and Monitoring

For example, MSD has long supported evidence-based approaches to understand AMR. The U.S. National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) is part of the U.S. national public health surveillance system and is an excellent example of an interagency government program that utilizes a One Health approach to understanding the risks posed by AMR. Recognizing the importance of AMR surveillance, MSD initiated the Study for Monitoring Antimicrobial Resistance Trends (SMART), one of the world’s largest and longest-running AMR surveillance studies, in 2002. SMART has more than 200 sites across more than 60 countries – with 67 of the participating sites in low- and middle-income countries. MSD is working to ensure researchers around the world have greater access to SMART data. This type of AMR surveillance data can be a valuable resource in determining pathogen prevalence and antibiotic susceptibility, important data that can be used to support antimicrobial stewardship programs and improve patient outcomes. Additionally, our identification and monitoring tools and services help farmers better manage their livestock’s health and well-being, in addition to the responsible and appropriate use of veterinary medicines, including antibiotics and vaccines. We also offer technological solutions to help pet owners monitor their companion animals for improved health outcomes. Click here to learn more.


Our human health antimicrobial and vaccine R&D programs span discovery to late-stage clinical development and address the key unmet needs established by public health authorities. In 2017, we established the MSD Exploratory Science Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, which focuses on the earliest stages of discovery research to better understand the underlying biology of human disease.

Stewardship of Essential Medicines

We collaborate with a broad group of stakeholders to implement evidence-based AMS policies and programs in both, humans and animals. We support AMS through a variety of initiatives focused on education, implementation, research and/or advocacy. More information can be found here.

Ensuring a Safe and Sustainable Food Supply

Our company has implemented precision livestock management and traceability initiatives to enable more accurate risk profiling, early disease detection and individualized diagnosis/treatment decisions. Our company’s vaccines help safeguard animal health and welfare to ensure that producers are able to supply high-quality and secure protein.

Respecting Our Shared Environment

Our company supports science-based, environmentally sound international and national programs to  address the challenges to environmental health, including: conducting environmental risk assessments of our products to support drug marketing authorizations, implementing programs to minimize environmental risk from manufacturing discharges, and supporting industry efforts to offer medicine disposal programs. More information can be found here.

Future Actions and Strategies in One Health

We support programs and policies that take a One Health approach to achieve optimal health outcomes for people, animals and our environment.

We continue our efforts, because we know the world needs it.

Learn more about antibiotic resistance

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