Gordon Irlam
326 A St
Redwood City, CA 94063
Email: noreply@base.com
Phone / Fax: +1 (650) 364-6169

Celia A. Colbert
Corporate Secretary
WS 3A-65
One Merck Drive
Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889

November 14, 2002

Dear Ms. Colbert,

As a shareholder and a human being, I am deeply concerned by the AIDS pandemic.

Merck's Crixivan (indinavir) is a mainstay of antiretroviral therapy in the West, and has doubtless helped save hundreds of thousands of lives. The role of Merck in the development of Stocrin/Sustiva (efavirenz) is also greatly appreciated. Unfortunately though, even today, antiretrovirals such as Crixivan and Stocrin are only reaching 5% of all people in need of them. Given the huge resources that went into the development of these drugs, this outcome constitutes a huge societal failure that must be corrected.

I am proud of the role Merck has played to date in responding to the AIDS pandemic, and would like to see the company continuing to play a leadership role within the pharmaceutical industry in responding to the AIDS pandemic.

Therefore as the beneficial owner, as defined under Rule 13(d)-3 of the General Rules and Regulations under the Securities Act of 1934, of 500 shares of Merck common stock, I am submitting for inclusion in the next proxy statement, in accordance with Rule 14a-8 of these General Rules, the enclosed shareholder proposal.

As required by Rule 14a-8 I have held these shares for more than one year and will continue to hold the requisite number of shares through the date of the next stockholders' annual meeting. Evidence of ownership is enclosed, and any additional information you may require will be provided upon request. I, or my appointed representative, will be present at the annual meeting to introduce this proposal.

In filing this proposal, I am not advocating the company increase its charitable giving efforts in the AIDS space. Rather, I am advocating the company look more deeply at the AIDS pandemic, and what can be done to resolve it at a more structural level. That is, understanding and working towards changing the rules of the game for all, so that everyone can win. For instance, as far as I know Merck is one of the few major pharmaceutical companies working on an AIDS vaccine, and almost none of the major pharmaceutical companies are working on microbicides. I think it would be productive to understand why this is, and for the company to explore ways in which the pharmaceutical industry could advocate to make these into more profitable opportunities.

A commitment from Merck to produce and distribute the review requested would allow this proposal to be withdrawn. I believe that this proposal is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.


Gordon Irlam