Remember a week ago when we wrote about pharma giant Merck and publishing giant Elsevier working together to publish a fake journal
that talked up various Merck drugs and was used by doctors to show that the drugs were safe and useful? Well, you knew the story wouldn't end there, right? Slashdot
points us to the discovery that there is actually a whole division at Elsevier
that would publish such journals and tried to duck this fact
before sort of (but not fully) admitting it:
In a statement to The Scientist magazine, Elsevier at first said the company "does not today consider a compilation of reprinted articles a 'journal'". I would like to expand on this statement: It was a collection of academic journal articles, published by the academic journal publisher Elsevier, in an academic journal-shaped package. Perhaps if it wasn't an academic journal they could have made this clearer in the title which, I should have mentioned, was named: The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine.
Things have deteriorated since. It turns out that Elsevier put out six such journals, sponsored by industry. The Elsevier chief executive, Michael Hansen, has now admitted that they were made to look like journals, and lacked proper disclosure. "This was an unacceptable practice and we regret that it took place," he said.
The pharmaceutical industry, and publishers, as we have repeatedly seen, have serious difficulties in living up to the high standards needed in this field, and bad information in the medical literature leads doctors to make irrational prescribing decisions, which ultimately can cost lives, and cause unnecessary suffering, not to mention the expense.
Doesn't that make you feel safe about the drugs you take?