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Another Bone to Pick with Merck
The pharmaceutical company Merck "paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of a publication that had the look of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarized articles -- most of which presented data favorable to Merck products." The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine carried "ads for Fosamax, a Merck drug for osteoporosis, and Vioxx" and "appeared to act solely as marketing tools with no disclosure of company sponsorship." Merck's marketing ploy was unearthed as part of the Australian Vioxx lawsuits. The publisher, Elsevier, admits "that the journals in question didn't have appropriate disclosures." A member of the journal's "Honorary Editorial Board," Australian rheumatologist Peter Brooks, has worked with Merck, Pfizer and Amgen, and put his name on "a few advertorials" for drug companies. "I'm sure many a primary care physician was given literature from Merck that said, 'As published in the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, Fosamax outperforms all other medications,'" a Bioethics.net blog states. "If physicians would not lend their names or pens to these efforts, and publishers would not offer their presses, these publications could not exist."