According to an article in The Scientist:
Merck paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of 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.From the Nature News article
In a statement released on 7 May, Michael Hansen, chief executive officer of Elsevier's Health Sciences Division, acknowledged that, between 2000 and 2005, an Australian office of Elsevier had distributed promotional periodicals that were packaged as journals, without disclaimers clearly marking them as industry-sponsored products.This sort of thing is rather disturbing. To me, it speaks of the dangers of letting a small number of corporations own the bulk of scientific publications. What is equally disturbing is the relative lack of press this story got. This story first appeared in The Scientist and Nature following the report of a lawsuit against Merck. I've seen remarkably little about this elsewhere and it would be a shame if the story died. I'd be interested if anyone could post their own or links to further commentaries about this.
During the trial, George Jelinek, a member of the World Association of Medical Editors, testified that the publication would be commonly mistaken for a peer-reviewed journal, even though it was sponsored by Merck and contained only articles that drew positive conclusions about Merck products.
Additionally, the publication listed an "honorary editorial board." One of the listed members, Australian arthritis specialist James Bertouch, reportedly testified that, until recently, he did not know of the journal's existence.