Milena Organdzhieva (Kostova) and MSD Bulgaria - the mission to improve lives through innovation -

August 22, 20230

Milena Organdzhieva (Kostova) has been a Managing Director of MSD Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Kosovo since July 1st, 2021.

Milena started her career in MSD Bulgaria in 2000 and for 21 years she has gained extensive experience in different areas of the business in key positions.

Since 2018, she has been the Business Process Manager for Bulgaria and has managed to build the department from the ground up and successfully develop it. In the meantime, she took over the development of the product portfolio for North Macedonia and Kosovo, where she significantly expanded the company’s strategic portfolio with a focus on oncology and vaccines. Since February 2020, Milena has taken over a project to split the company, successfully leading and coordinating all cross-functional activities in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Greece, Malta and Cyprus.

Milena Organdzhieva (Kostova) holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the Varna University of Economics – Industrial Management and obtained a CIPD Diploma from The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the association for HR professionals.


About MSD Bulgaria


Driven by their mission to save and improve lives, for 130 years, MSD has been inventing innovative medicines and vaccines against some of humanity’s most challenging diseases.

The company demonstrates its commitment to patients and public health by expanding access to quality healthcare services through comprehensive policies, programs and partnerships.

Today, MSD continues to be at the forefront of in-depth research to prevent and treat some of the most serious health problems – including cancer and infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola.

MSD has been active in Bulgaria for many years, and is due to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in the country next year. From the very beginning, MSD Bulgaria has worked purposefully to provide access to innovative solutions for people.


Human papillomavirus (HPV)


Can you tell us more about the human papillomavirus (HPV)? How common is it? What danger does it pose?

In fact, the human papilloma virus (HPV) infects a large proportion of sexually active people at some point in their lives, and over 80% of men and women will encounter the virus. In the majority of cases, HPV clears up on its own, but in others, it can cause certain diseases or some types of cancer later in life. Unfortunately, there is no way to distinguish between cases in which the virus will clear or lead to certain diseases. According to data, 668,000 men and women worldwide are diagnosed with HPV-related cancers each year. In 2018, for example, it is estimated that 1 in 25 cancers are caused by HPV infection, and cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer among women worldwide. The figures for Bulgaria are even more worrying – every year 1000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 500 lose their lives. In other words, the virus is not to be underestimated at all.


What do you think is the importance and role of vaccines in human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention?

MSD is a world leader in the field and we believe in the idea of prevention through lifelong immunisation. Vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements of all time. They make it possible to control and almost completely eradicate a number of infectious diseases that were once widespread. That is why prevention and raising public awareness are among our top priorities, and that is why we actively support and participate in these types of campaigns and NGO programmes and partner with health professionals and authorities. Especially, in the area of achieving the goals of the WHO global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer by 2030. In Bulgaria, one or two women die every day from cervical cancer, a disease that is completely preventable through vaccination. Worldwide, there are already countries that are close to eliminating HPV-related diseases, thanks to high vaccination coverage.


Although HPV vaccines prevent HPV-related diseases, awareness of HPV and the HPV vaccine is suboptimal and limited worldwide. What do you think is the potential of digital healthcare solutions to improve patient awareness to prevent HPV-related cancers ?

In terms of digital technologies, globally, the implementation of different types of digital solutions related to HPV risk awareness, vaccination benefits, and information on where to procure and administer the vaccine have a key role to play in improving population awareness and combating HPV-related diseases.

Speaking of Bulgaria, I think that with the development of the NHSI, albeit slower than we would like, and the presence of a good ecosystem of health tech companies provide an opportunity to introduce different digital solutions, such as information solutions through different channels, reminders about the vaccination opportunities for children under the national programme, as well as where to place the vaccine, different types of chat bots answering questions from parents whose children are subject to vaccination and different types of reminders. Information solutions should not be limited to consumers, but should also address medical professionals, who should receive the most up-to-date and reliable information. The access of every health professional to the NHIS provides such opportunities.

MSD is a strong believer in modern technology, which is embedded in a number of processes across the company at a global level, including clinical research, planning and forecasting, but also in day-to-day operations in terms of the use of various digital solutions for process management, communication and the tracking of various projects.




Speaking of cancers, how widespread are they in Bulgaria? What are the actions taken by MSD and to what extent is digitalization advocated as a means to provide innovative solutions to tackle the problem?

In Bulgaria, as in other European countries, cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the leading causes of death. The introduction of immuno-oncolic therapies has changed the approach to the treatment of some cancers, survival and quality of life of patients. MSD is a leader in immuno-oncology, with our product continually undergoing development and becoming the standard of care in new locations.

On the other hand, in Bulgaria, for our company, perhaps the most digitalized therapeutic area is oncology. There, we use a tremendous amount of data, analyzed and processed with various tools and platforms, so that we can make the most informed decisions to benefit Bulgarian physicians and improve access to treatment for Bulgarian patients.

At a local level, we are convinced that digital processes will improve both the performance of healthcare professionals, their outcomes and the health and quality of life of Bulgarian patients in general. As the founder of the Business Operations department, which today has grown into the Data, Digitization and Business Operations department, I cannot help but mention that the use of data, digital solutions and AI to improve diagnostics, accelerate clinical trials, speed up innovation and significantly improve treatment outcomes.

Bulgaria has the potential to be a leading country in the introduction of digital solutions in healthcare. For this purpose, the country needs a comprehensive national strategy for digitalisation in healthcare and proactivity from various stakeholders in the sector. Therefore, we are extremely happy about MSD’s participation in the ecosystem of the Digital Health and Innovation Cluster (DHI Cluster), as it enables us to collaborate with different companies and develop various projects aiming at optimization, reform, transparency and predictability of the healthcare system, with the ultimate goal of achieving better life and health for all of us.


MSD For Mothers


Tell me more about the MSD For Mothers initiative – what it aims to achieve globally and locally.

Childbirth is one of the most beautiful and happy moments in a woman’s life, but for many it can be a frightening and tragic event. According to the WHO, around 295,000 women died after giving birth in 2017. Most of the deaths (94%) were in low- and middle-income countries. Most of these deaths could have been prevented.

In response to the crisis, in 2011, our company created MSD for Mothers, a $500 million global initiative that aims to create a world where no mother dies while giving life.

For several years now, MSD Bulgaria has been actively partnering on the MSD for Mothers project with local organizations to increase sexuality education for vulnerable groups, as well as prevention and public health initiatives.

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