Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint Medicine

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The Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint Medicine (originally titled the Australasian Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine[1]) was a periodical presented in the style of scientific journal, published by Elsevier subsidiary Excerpta Medica but established and funded by pharmaceutical company Merck. Merck, the drug manufacturer responsible for Vioxx, Gardasil and other blockbusters, medical publisher Elsevier, which also publishes The Lancet, admitted in May 2009 that it produced The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine without disclosing sponsorship from Merck. The publisher has also revealed that six publications were paid for by drug companies between 2000 and 2005, making them "elaborate marketing tools".[2]

Publication began in 2002, and the last known issue appeared in 2005.[3] It was reportedly one of six such "industry-sponsored" journals.[4] According to The Scientist:

Merck paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of [Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine], 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—that appeared to act solely as marketing tools with no disclosure of company sponsorship.[5][6]

The publication was not included in the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE) literature database and did not have its own website.[7]

In May 2009, Elsevier admitted that its "high standards for disclosure were not followed in this instance"[8] and expressed regret at the publication of these journals.[9]

It has recently come to my attention that from 2000 to 2005, our Australia office published a series of sponsored article compilation publications, on behalf of pharmaceutical clients, that were made to look like journals and lacked the proper disclosures. This was an unacceptable practice, and we regret that it took place.

Merck has denied claims that articles within it were ghost written by Merck and has stated that the articles were all reprinted from peer-reviewed medical journals.[10]


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  1. State Library of New South Wales Australasian journal of musculoskeletal medicine., Library Catalogue entry, accessed 26 August 2009
  2. Pharmacy Europe. Publisher admits drug company links. Accessed on 9 May 2009
  3. Salamander Davoudi and Andrew Jack Elsevier admits journal error, Financial Times 2009-05-06, accessed 26 August 2009
  4. Ben Goldacre The danger of drugs … and data, The Guardian 2009-05-09 accessed 26 August 2009
  5. Tom Lamb The Tale Of Merck's Fake Medical Journal As Told At A Vioxx Trial In Australia 2009-04-30, accessed 26 August 2009
  6. Bob Grant Merck published fake journal, The Scientist, 2009-04-30, accessed 26 August 2009
  7. Summer Johnson Merck Makes Phony Peer-Review Journal 2009-05-01, accessed 26 August 2009
  8. Salamander Davoudi and Andrew Jack Elsevier admits journal error, Financial Times 2009-05-06, accessed 26 August 2009
  9. Elsevier Statement From Michael Hansen, CEO Of Elsevier's Health Sciences Division, Regarding Australia Based Sponsored Journal Practices Between 2000 And 2005, 2009-05-07, accessed 26 August 2009
  10. Merck Merck Responds to Questions about the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine Journal, 30 April 2009, accessed 26 August 2009
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