Big Pharma’s Big Deception

Medical librarian blogger Laika Spoetnik (Laika’s MedLibLog, 5/8/09) has taken a long look at the international media “tsunami” generated by the Australian paper’s one sentence on “a fake Elsevier/Merck journal. It says: ‘The drug company also allegedly produced an entire journal–called the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine–and passed it off as an independent peer review publication.'” Among Spoetnik’s findings:

  • It had the looks of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarized articles
  • Most of the articles presented data favorable to the Merck products Fosamax (for osteoporosis) and Vioxx
  • There are several ads for Fosamax and Vioxx
  • It is unclear who wrote the editorials…
  • There is no disclosure of company sponsorship
  • Merck paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes (confirmed by Elsevier)

Unsurprised by such odious behavior from a pharmaceutical giant like Merck, Spoetnik still thinks it “remarkable that ‘the reliable and authorative’ Elsevier, publisher of journals like the Lancet [and tons of U.S. periodicals], lends itself to a biased publication of articles that only serve as promotional material.”