GENEVA, May 25, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announces that in the framework of the second International Thyroid Awareness Week 2010, the company will support an information campaign focusing on thyroid disorders and pregnancy. From May 24 to May 30, 2010, the company and its affiliates worldwide will organize educational activities and public information sessions.

During the pregnancy period, the change of physiological and hormonal balance may alter the thyroid function and trigger the development of transient or permanent thyroid disorders in women who are at risk. Uncontrolled maternal hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism as well as iodine deficiency can result in complications during the pregnancy, the delivery of the baby, and potentially impact the good development of the fetus.

As demonstrated in a recent European survey (1) conducted with over 1,700 women, aged 18 - 44 years, from five European countries (2), there is a significant lack of understanding about the vital role the thyroid gland plays in pregnancy. 58% of responders did not know the potential risks of untreated thyroid disorders during pregnancy.

Thyroid dysfunctions can greatly affect patients' quality of life, but they often go unnoticed due to a misinterpretation of the common symptoms, especially during pregnancy, when they can be easily mistaken for the physical and emotional changes linked to pregnancy itself. Undiagnosed female patients that become pregnant and do not receive the appropriate care, run significant risks for their health and for their baby, said Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice President, Research and Development at Merck Serono. Merck Serono is pleased to provide for the second year its support to healthcare professionals and patients through this global information campaign.

The two most common thyroid conditions are hypothyroidism, when the body produces too little thyroid hormone, and hyperthyroidism when the body produces too much thyroid hormone. Thyroid disorders can be confirmed by a healthcare provider through a blood test, and managed through oral medication. For severe cases of hyperthyroidism, treatment may also include irradiations or surgery.

The International Thyroid Awareness Week is a campaign supported by Merck Serono in cooperation with Thyroid Federation International, and endorsed by the European Thyroid Association, the Latin American Thyroid Society and the Chinese Society of Endocrinology. In 2009, the first International Thyroid Awareness campaign was successfully rolled out in over 30 countries, in collaboration with local patient organizations and members of the medical community.

Further information on thyroid disorders and pregnancy are available on:

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the division for innovative prescription pharmaceuticals of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets innovative small molecules and biopharmaceuticals to help patients with unmet medical needs. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates through separately incorporated affiliates.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux(R), cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif(R), interferon beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f(R), follitropin alfa), endocrine and metabolic disorders (Saizen(R) and Serostim(R), somatropin), (Kuvan(R), sapropterin dihydrochloride) as well as cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage(R), metformin), (Concor(R), bisoprolol), (Euthyrox(R), levothyroxine). Not all products are available in all markets.

With an annual RD expenditure of more than EUR 1 billion, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of EUR 7.7 billion in 2009, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by approximately 33,600 employees in 64 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

For more information, please visit or

(1) TNS omnibus survey, conducted March 2010

(2) Austria, France, Germany, Poland and Spain

SOURCE: Merck Serono

CONTACT: Merck Serono S.A., Geneva, 9 Chemin des Mines, 1202 Genève,Suisse, Media relations, Tel: +41-22-414-36-00