I gather the point was to produce marketing information referencing, as an authority, this so-called peer reviewed medical journal. It does make me question 2 things, though. Who inside Merck is in charge of corporate responsibility, and who in the regulatory agencies is watching out for false or misleading advertising?
From an article in theScientist.com (free site registration required).
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, which was published by Exerpta Medica, a division of scientific publishing juggernaut Elsevier, is not indexed in the MEDLINE database, and has no website (not even a defunct one). The Scientist obtained two issues of the journal: Volume 2, Issues 1 and 2, both dated 2003. The issues contained little in the way of advertisements apart from ads for Fosamax, a Merck drug for osteoporosis, and Vioxx.
We rely on drug companies for things we put in our mouths, which are supposed to help us. This feels like betrayal to me.I won’t rehash the implications, which are explored in the articles referenced below.
Credit where credit is due. I first saw this on slashdot (a computer geek journal) in their science section. It’s being fairly widely reported. A google search currently turns up over a thousand entries. The American Journal of Bioethics and their web site Bioethics.net reported it in their blog. Wikipedia has a stub about it, added fairly recently. It’s also being reported in boing boing. The Australian is covering the trial of a Vioxx user who is suing Merck. The information surfaced in that trial. I don’t know any of these organizations (other than slashdot and Wikipedia) so I can’t speak to issues of accuracy or authority.
Here is an example of a doctor quoting this pseudo-science journal.
Merck responded on this page (part way down the page, the line labelled 30 April 2009).