Gregg Allman to lead benefit concert for ‘World Hepatitis Day’

Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) today announced that Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Gregg Allman will work together with the company and the American Liver Foundation on Tune In to Hep C, a public health campaign to help raise awareness of chronic hepatitis C virus infection.  To help turn up the volume around hepatitis C a benefit concert featuring The Allman Brothers Band will be held in New York on July 27, the eve of World Hepatitis Day.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Allman’s liver transplant, which he received after his liver had become damaged from chronic hepatitis C infection.  Allman has returned to performing and recording music, and now wants to help raise awareness of hepatitis C.

“I’m excited to be working with Merck and the American Liver Foundation because there are many people who have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C, but aren’t taking action.  I want to tell them, don’t wait.  Doing nothing is not an option; they need to talk with their doctor,” said Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band.  ”I made the decision to take action and talk to my doctor, so that I could get back to making the music I love.  I want others to take that action too, and if I can help make that happen, I’ve done my job.”

Nearly 3.2 million Americans have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, a potentially serious disease that can damage the liver over time and lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and liver cancer.  Many people infected with chronic hepatitis C do not know that they have the virus – approximately 60 to 80 percent of people infected with chronic hepatitis C virus do not have symptoms.

The American Liver Foundation (ALF) joined the Tune In to Hep C campaign to help elevate awareness of this important public health issue.  ALF is a national organization advocating for those living with liver disease and their families, and provides education, support and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease.

“We are thrilled to work with Merck and Gregg Allman to help educate and empower patients with chronic hepatitis C – this has been a focus of the American Liver Foundation for 35 years,” said Newton Guerin, acting CEO and chief operating officer, ALF.  ”People don’t often talk openly about their hepatitis C, which contributes to misinformation and isolation for those infected with the virus.  Gregg’s willingness to share his story will open the door for meaningful dialogue that can help reduce stigma and the lack of understanding surrounding chronic hepatitis C.”

Merck recently announced the Hope Against Hepatitis C initiative, in which the company restated its long-standing commitment to supporting the hepatitis C community through a variety of public-private partnerships that will involve public education, patient support programs and collaborative research efforts.  Working with Gregg Allman and the ALF is an example of this ongoing commitment.

“When a person like Gregg Allman comes forward to speak about his personal experience, it is extremely powerful, and we are grateful to him for his commitment to helping motivate other people with chronic hepatitis C to take action,” said Mark Timney, president, Global Human Health – U.S. Market, Merck.

About the Benefit Concert
The concert, Tune In to Hep C Presents The Allman Brothers Band, will take place at The Beacon Theatre in New York City on July 27, the eve of World Hepatitis Day.  The Beacon Theatre has special meaning for Allman, who has played there every year since 1991 with the exception of 2007, when the band had to cancel their performance because Allman was too ill from his chronic hepatitis C to play.  Tickets will go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday, June 22 at 12:00PM EDT.  Tickets are available at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster.com, select Ticketmaster locations and charge by phone at 800-745-3000.  Tickets also will be available at The Beacon Theatre box office beginning June 23.
Proceeds from the benefit concert will be donated to community-based organizations that provide education and support services to people with chronic hepatitis C.

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