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 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."


I've gotten several emails about this from people asking why journalists aren't treating it as a bigger news scandal. Part of what physicians seem to find shocking is that Elsevier is doubling as both a publisher of respected medical journals and as publisher of "a pseudojournal that's nothing more than an advertising vehicle for Merck" as well as "virtually any speculations authors want to publish with minimal peer review":


That this is not covered in MSM is only a surprise to those who have been asleep for the last few years and still think the press is looking out for their interests. What is disheartening beyond description is how many doctors don't realize how much "science" is nothing more than marketing. From their professors with drug ties in med school, to those fancy "informational" lunches provided by drug reps, it is all about Pharma's profit first. Wake Up America!!! And then put your pills down!