Stemwedel on Elsevier and Merck’s Fake Medical Journal

Janet D. Stemwedel talks about the recently uncovered case of pharmaceutical giant Merck paying publisher Elsevier to produce a fake medical journal:

Clearly putting together something that looked like a medical journal and that contained articles (and excerpts from articles) that had only good things to say about Merck products reflects an intent to deceive. A real medical journal, one would assume, contains articles that have been scrutinized by scientists who are concerned to uphold standards of evidence and sound scientific reasoning. Peer review by experts lets the consumer of the articles in the journal regard the articles as legitimate contributions to a body of scientific knowledge. Moreover, real medical journals consider manuscripts examining the safety and efficacy of drugs from a number of competing manufacturers, and, presumably, manuscripts reporting problems with drugs, not just successes with them.

Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was a fake journal. But, because it was put together to look like a real one, it was intended to capitalize on the credibility that articles in a real medical journal would command.

Merck, obviously, crossed an ethical line here. So did publisher Elsevier.

One Response to “Stemwedel on Elsevier and Merck’s Fake Medical Journal”

  1. Steve Says:

    This kind of shit happens all the time in newspapers and TV. I wonder what your thoughts are about how much worse/better this is.

    After all, it’s pretty easy for real scientists and doctors to uncover a fake medical journal, whiles it’s pretty hard for the layman to discover which news articles are just corporate press releases.

    Still unethical, just wondering how far down the line to place it.

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