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 These allegation which were originally made in the Sunday Times in 2009 less than a week after Sunday Times proprietor James Murdoch was appointed to the board of another MMR vaccine manufacturer with a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.