In the last week it was revealed that Elsevier, the health and sciences publishing giant, accepted payment from the pharmaceutical giant Merck, to publish a “journal” with multiple articles recommending the use of its drugs (see TheScientist.com’s detailed reports here and here). The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was sponsored by Merck, a fact which was never disclosed in the publication. Additionally, Elsevier has confessed that an additional five titles published between the years of 2000-2005 were also sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and presented as peer-reviewed journals. These titles were published by Elsevier’s Australia bureau with the Excerpta Medica imprint. (None of the titles are in Laupus Library’s collections.)
This rather unethical practice presents a number of problems, not the least of which is the underlying disregard these businesses had for patient safety. What is Elsevier’s or Merck’s responsibility in recalling this information now? What other publications has Elsevier received payment for? What other publications are sponsored by “big pharma” without our knowledge? If you are a reseacher or healthcare practitioner, how would you be able to tell that these titles were disingenuous?
If you, your staff, or students are ever in doubt about the authenticity of data you’d like to use in your research or for patient care, please consider Laupus librarians a great resource for investigation. Information Services librarians are here to help you get the best quality data available and can look for those pieces of the puzzle that would signal poorly constructed research, like lack of quality references and sponsorship.
Laupus intends to monitor developments on this news item as they unfold and add updates to this post. Additional information can located at the following links: