Merck announces formation of Merck Digital Ethics Advisory Panel

Merck, a leading science and technology company, has announced the creation of its Merck Digital Ethics Advisory Panel. Designed to provide guidance around evolving digital business models, the panel will address digital ethics questions for all three business sectors of Merck. The panel complements the existing Merck Bioethics Advisory Panel, which provides guidance on bioethical questions arising from Merck’s business and research.

“Merck has a long history of developing and adhering to rigorous ethical standards, placing a strong importance on promoting and embedding ethical practices across every facet of the company – such as bioethical questions in our Healthcare and Life Science business sectors,” said Manfred Klevesath, Head of Global Health, Bioethics and Digital Ethics at Merck. “To further support our mission of operationalising ethical guidance in our business practices, the Merck Digital Ethics Advisory Panel will help steer our actions and ensure we take a holistic, ethical approach in our current and new digital business models.”

The Merck Digital Ethics Advisory Panel was established recently to provide external guidance and expertise on complex ethical matters around data usage, algorithms and new digital innovations. Specifically, the panel will play a pivotal role in ensuring that the company develops new digital technologies responsibly and addresses potential ethical issues arising from the use of these technologies. The panel will consist of renowned academic and industry experts in the fields of digital ethics, legal and regulatory, big data technology, digital health, medicine and data governance from the US and Europe.

The panel’s first responsibility is to develop a Digital Code of Ethics (Code) that will serve as a governing framework and guide how the panel provides counsel. The Code will define essential digital ethics principles for Merck that will serve as guidance for the company. One of the initial activities of the panel will be to provide support to Syntropy, a partnership between EMD Digital Inc, a subsidiary of Merck and the leading entity of Merck’s new digital business, and Palantir Technologies Inc. Syntropy specialises in healthcare data integration and collaboration solutions to help scientists harness the true power of their data. The panel will be instrumental in furthering Syntropy’s ability to unlock the value of scientific data while ensuring patient data is used in an ethical manner.

“As a rapidly developing field, digital ethics is a new, complex territory for many,” said Sarah Becker, Founder & Managing Partner of Institute for Digital Transformation in Healthcare (idigiT), and a member of the panel. “As the landscape continues to evolve, we as an industry must be diligent about meeting rigorous ethical standards, and expert forum such as the Merck Digital Ethics Advisory Panel are key to that effort. I look forward to working on this panel as we tackle our first task of building out the Code of Digital Ethics, an important road map that will serve as a set of guidelines for operating with trust and transparency.”

The panel will complement the Merck Bioethics Advisory Panel (MBAP), which was founded in 2011 and which provides guidance on bioethical questions arising from its business and research. With the work of the MBAP, Merck has positioned itself as an industry leader in applying bioethical principles to evaluate products and services in its business sectors over the past decade. As digital business models and applications continue to arise across healthcare and other industries, the panel will provide advice specific to the rapidly developing field of digital ethics, thereby complementing the MBAP’s area of expertise.

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