Our work in diabetes

About 500,000 people in Switzerland are affected by diabetes and approximately 90% of them (one in 18 people) suffer from type 2 diabetes.1 Many people may not even know that they have this disease, as the average case of type 2 diabetes is not diagnosed for seven years.2 The number of diabetes patients is constantly rising. By 2045, the number of people affected across the world is estimated to have increased to 700 million.3



people in Switzerland suffer from diabetes.1

Type 2 diabetes makes up approximately


of all cases of diabetes diagnosed in adults.1

«Diabetes is one of MSD’s key therapeutic areas. We are committed to conducting scientifically excellent and innovative research into diabetes in order to continuously improve treatment options for patients.»

Helgo Magnussen, Director Business Unit Primary Care & Vaccines, MSD Switzerland

Type 2 diabetes2

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition, which develops gradually and is characterised by increased blood sugar levels. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use the insulin effectively to convert blood sugar into energy (insulin resistance). In most cases, type 2 diabetes does not develop until later in the patient’s life. At first, it does not cause any detectable symptoms. The condition often goes undetected until complications arise, such as wounds not healing properly or being prone to infection or visual impairments. Type 2 diabetes is affecting an increasing number of younger people who are severely overweight.

People with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and death.

Type 2 diabetic patients between the ages of 45 and 64 have an increased risk of heart attacks.4

People with type 2 diabetes are 1.5 – 2 times more likely than the general population to suffer a stroke.5

50% of deaths among people with typ 2 diabetes are the result of a cardiovascular disease.6

Blood sugar control is vital for type 2 diabetes patients.2

When treating type 2 diabetes, it is vitally important to normalise the patient’s increased blood sugar levels. Switching to a healthier diet and exercising more does help, but in many cases it is not enough. These patients also rely on antidiabetics (drugs that reduce blood sugar) and regular visits to their doctor.

We are investigating the development of new treatment options to further improve the quality of life of diabetes patients.

Diabetes is a chronic illness and, as yet, there is still no cure for it. MSD has been actively conducting research into diabetes for years, to enable us to provide patients with new, innovative treatment options.

MSD plays a leading role in the field of diabetes

With an unwavering focus on innovation and substantiated science, we are working on researching, developing and providing drugs and vaccines. In 2007, our long-standing research programme for diabetes enabled us to contribute to one of the most important advances in type 2 diabetes treatment: the introduction of a new class of treatment known as DPP-4 inhibitors. Although diabetes patients have seen their quality of life improve considerably, there are still many who do not reach their target blood sugar levels. Nowadays, there is a new class of antidiabetic substances used to treat type 2 diabetes, known as SGLT-2 inhibitors. This gives patients further options for combination and supplementary therapy for treating type 2 diabetes.

We are working to improve the possibility of early diabetes detection.

Many patients’ diabetes is not detected until they start displaying visible symptoms2. The PARIS (Patient at Risk Identification System) software developed by MSD helps to identify patients at risk of diabetic and cardiovascular conditions. PARIS uses patient data to estimate the patient’s risk of disease as a basis for determining the most effective treatment for them. PARIS is also designed to prevent over- and under-treatment, ensure that resources are used more efficiently and make it easier to measure therapeutic success.


1 Bundesamt für Gesundheit https://www.bag.admin.ch, last access 13.12.2018; 2 https://www.diabetesschweiz.ch/, last access 13.12.2018; 3 Diabetes Atlas der IDF https://www.diabetes-online.de/, last access 13.12.2018; 4 Haffner et al. Mortality from coronary heart disease in subjects with type 2 diabetes and nondiabetic subjects with and without prior myocardial infarction. New England Journal of Medicine. 1998 Jul 23;339(4):229 – 234.; 5 Emerging risk factors collaboration: Diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose concentration, and risk of vascular disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 102 prospective studies. The Lancet. 2010.; 6 World Health Organisation Europe. Data and Statistics. http://www.euro.who.int/en/ health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/diabetes/data-and-tatistics.