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.