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For Merck, the Research & Development portfolio and associated resource management problem has far-reaching economic implications as indeed it has for the whole pharmaceutical industry. Effective decision-making with respect to development and resource strategies is critical for companies to remain competitive in this challenging and uncertain environment.

Two of the most critical decisions for modern pharmaceutical companies are selecting the right projects for the portfolio and allocating resources appropriately to deliver on the portfolio. Integrating these two decisions is the foundation for maximizing the value of the drug portfolio for every dollar invested in research and development.

Business issues
Merck is constantly faced with tough decisions on which products to invest in and how to allocate resources to functional areas. All these decisions are made under mounting pressure from the environment, with limited resources and staff, and with substantial uncertainties over drug discovery and development. The decision process also involves various facets of the organization including governance committees, project teams and functional areas. The overarching objective of the decision-making process is to deliver maximum value to patients and stakeholders under a resource constraint and limited risk tolerance.

The challenge
One of the challenges in solving this problem at Merck is the large volume of operational data and constantly changing business rules. For instance, there are multiple levels of activities and networks in the project environment and a hierarchy of organization and resource types in the operational world. The intersection between project management and operations management requires a robust and efficient tool to synthesize data in order to identify bottlenecks in the development pipeline and to optimize opportunities with drug products. Further, each decision context requires specific decision rules to generate scenarios and make recommendations that assist in overall decision-making.

The solution
Merck implemented a decision-support system using AIMMS that combines both responsive ad-hoc decision support plus advanced end-user applications.

About Merck
Merck is a global, research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines in over twenty therapeutic categories. The company also devotes extensive efforts to increasing access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them.