Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, announces today, in recognition of World Multiple Sclerosis Day, its ongoing commitment to support people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). A new survey among people living with MS reveals the crucial need for support from employers and physicians to make continued employment a viable option for them.

The Consider MS Survey, commissioned by Merck Serono in response to this year's focus by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation's (MSIF) on MS and work, reveals that of those surveyed, 80% of people with MS said they needed more support from their employers than they are currently getting in order to continue working. The question of work is also a concern for people with MS and their healthcare professionals (HCPs). Although 81% of people with MS reported having discussed MS and work-related matters with their HCP in the past 12 months, half (51%) still felt they needed more support from their HCP on discussing MS with their employer.

These data suggest there is ample scope for future collaboration between the patient, his or her physician and employers to find innovative ways to keep people with MS in the labor force, a particular concern in a period of restricted budgets and healthcare spending.

"Flexible hours, working from home, adaptive office environments and a commitment to raise awareness of our progressive policies throughout our organization will form the cornerstone of our employment practices," said Dietmar Eidens, Head of Global Human Resources at Merck Serono. "Today, Merck Serono is proud to make public its commitment to apply these practices across our offices in Europe and beyond and we look forward to other companies joining us in our commitment and addressing multiple sclerosis at work."

"Work is an important part of life for everyone, and for people living with multiple sclerosis, it can be a lifeline to independence and fuller participation in the workplace and society," said Pieter van Galen, an MS patient who was diagnosed 5 years ago. He continues to work full-time in and around Belgium as a private trainer/consultant for various companies. "This survey reveals the important role employers and healthcare professionals could have in making this a possibility for people with multiple sclerosis. And it is simple to do: I call on all employers to consider making working hours flexible, ensuring offices are accessible, and even just making sure parking is easy and close."

World MS Day 2011, an awareness day hosted by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF), has the theme this year of Work and MS with a focus on the role that employers can play in enabling people with MS to stay on the job ( It is an independent, multi-stakeholder event to which Merck Serono has responded with its commitment to HR policies supporting people with MS at work. This theme is of particular importance to people living with MS in Europe as MS often strikes people of working age and, uncontrolled, can potentially mean a loss of years of working life. Indeed, up to 47% of people may stop work within three years of being diagnosed with MS.

About the Consider MS Survey

The Consider MS Survey was commissioned by Merck Serono as part of its comprehensive response to MSIF's focus on work in 2011. It is not connected to MSIF, nor is it part of their initiatives around World MS Day. In the survey, research was conducted across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK involving both neurologists and people with MS to obtain their views about multiple sclerosis (MS) and the workplace. The research identified a need for increased dialogue and support between physicians, employers and people with MS.

Merck Serono