Merck And Elsevier Exposed For Creating Fake Peer Review Journal
from the wow dept
I know I’ve mentioned for a while that I’ve been spending a lot of time looking into the healthcare industry — particularly pharmaceutical companies, but haven’t written that much about them yet because I haven’t had the time to put everything together. However, the one thing that seems pretty consistent is how incredibly untrustworthy some of these companies are. The claims that it costs $800 million to make a pill are totally unsubstantiated. The idea that patents are necessary to create drugs is also entirely unsubstantiated. The more you look at it, the more you realize that patents have actually allowed the pharma industry to slow down many potential life-saving innovations in favor of a drug-based solution that isn’t always the best. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some valuable pharmaceuticals, but the industry has a long history of deception and convincing the public and politicians that they need a lot more protection and money than they really do — and that their drugs are more effective than they really are.
Even so, I was still somewhat stunned to read (via Clay Shirky) that Merck supposedly created a fake peer-reviewed journal to publish data that made its drugs look good. It also got Elsevier to publish the journal to make it look legit (Elsevier being one of the bigger publishers of — of course — proprietary medical journals). Two companies with a history of locking up information and data teaming up to mislead doctors and the public? What a shock…
Of course, this is exactly the sort of thing that you can do when everything is locked up and proprietary, rather than open. There’s almost no way to confirm or check the data or information to make sure it’s legit, so people tend to assume it is. In that regard, perhaps it’s no surprise that the two companies eventually went down this road, but it does highlight one of the problems with the way the system works today. As Shirky later points out this is hardly unique for a firm like Elsevier, which has faced some serious ethical questions regarding its publications in the past as well.