Merck-BMJ Double-speak Continues
By John Stone
British Medical Journal has put out a press release BMJ Group Chooses SDL to Support Medical Translations for Univadis Online Platform. Anyone reading this announcement, which is reproduced on the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal website, might suppose that Univadis is a brand name for a British Medical Journal product rather than the information arm of Merck (or MSD as it is styled in Europe). Editor of BMJ, Fiona Godlee, has been under pressure since February to acknowledge the journal’s close connections with the MMR vaccine manufacturer, following allegation made in the journal against Andrew Wakefield by journalist Brian Deer in January. These allegation which were originally made in the Sunday Times in 2009 less than a week after Sunday Times proprietor James Murdoch was appointed to the board of another MMR vaccine manufacturer with a brief to help protect the group’s reputation. BMJ will currently not allow mention of any of these matters to appear in its correspondence columns (Age of Autism Holier than Thou Godlee and Age of Autism comments ).
Little notice was taken of Deer’s allegations in 2009 outside Times newspapers (Age of Autism James Murdoch still supported by GSK) but they spread like wildfire particularly in the United States after BMJ press releases in January. However, BMJ has remained reticent over its connections with Merck despite a half-hearted admission by the editor in March. The question is why, if this is not a really sensitive issue for them, are they not to prepared to be up-front about it.
Someone might want to look at exactly why Brian Deer was brought her by the DOJ during the autism cases...in addition to more recently...at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Neal Halsey at JHBSPH invited Deer over to discuss andrew wakefield, among other things...why would he invite a journalist and not a scientist? Perhaps they were actually asking or giving Deer information that would get them in big trouble in the USA but seems to be par for the course in the UK? It will be interesting to see if BD starts to spill out things about any cases in the US and, if he does, there will be $%*#&# to pay now that Murdoch has been outed.
Posted by: foxguardinghenhouse | August 24, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Thanks, John. It's certainly all a smelly rat, isn't it.
Posted by: Zed | August 24, 2011 at 08:53 AM
That is incorrect. BMJ have admitted in a rather sheepish way that Merck fund their annual awards, and presumably they also have advertising revenues, but when it comes to the partnership between BMJ Learning and Univadis, although we don't know how these activities are funded - which is certainly an area of interest - they are plainly working to mutually beneficial ends, whatever those are. And if BMJ step in to protect the reputation of a Merck product they should certainly be declaring this.
Posted by: John Stone | August 23, 2011 at 01:18 PM
And how much advertising money is paid by Merck to the BMJ annually for peddling their products? (that alone is a conflict.)
Posted by: Zed | August 23, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Merck's 2010 vaccine sales worth $3.8b according to this article:
Posted by: John Stone | August 23, 2011 at 12:26 PM
How much are Merck's annual sales of 1) MMR 2) other pediatric vaccines?
Might be interesting if someone has time to look up the figures.
Posted by: ChildHealthSafety | August 23, 2011 at 09:29 AM
How many are being paid to look the other way and how are they being paid ?I just seen that UK Prime Minister David Cameron`s ,ex –right hand man Andy Coulson was on “double bubble” .Is the High Priestess on double bubble also ??If not why is it not an open forum on the Merck sponsored BMJ it can`t be P.B.F. that’s illegal to.
Andy Coulson reportedly paid by News International when hired by Tories
Posted by: Angus Files | August 23, 2011 at 08:12 AM