Committed to Providing Medical Information: Merck and The Merck Manuals
First published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, The Merck Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers. As the Merck Manual evolved, it continually expanded the reach and depth of its offerings to reflect the mission of providing the best medical information of the day to a wide cross-section of users, including medical professionals and students, veterinarians and veterinary students, and consumers.
We believe that health information is a universal right and that every person is entitled to accurate, accessible and usable medical information. And we believe that we have a responsibility to protect, preserve and share the best current medical information to enable more informed decisions, enhance relationships between patients and professionals, and improve health care outcomes around the world.
As a sign of its deepened commitment to worldwide medical information access and improving global health, we are making the Merck Manuals (in North America) and MSD Manual (in the remainder of the world) available for free in digital form to professionals and patients.
We have maintained a strong outreach to developing countries for decades. Through partnerships with organizations such as Books for Africa, we have donated more than 200,000 copies of the Manuals professional and home editions to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for distribution to physicians, nurses and community health workers throughout developing countries.
In 2015, we embarked on our most far-reaching medical knowledge initiative to date, Global Medical Knowledge 2020. Through this worldwide project, the Manuals aim to make the best current medical information accessible by up to 3 billion health care professionals and patients around the world by 2020. As part of this project, all translations of the Manuals will be available online and kept current.
The Manuals are the product of a collaboration between hundreds of medical experts worldwide, an independent editorial board of peer reviewers, and our’ editorial staff of physicians and professional medical writers. For over 100 years, we have had complete editorial independence to present the best current thinking regarding medical diagnosis and treatment, and does not in any way promote or publicize Merck or MSD products. To ensure absence of commercial or corporate bias, authors and peer reviewers cannot be employees of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, nor can they serve as speakers for Merck or MSD products, or in any other way represent the company. Although the editorial staff is employed by Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, there is no control, review, or even input into the content of The Manuals allowed from any other part of our company, including research and development, sales and marketing, public relations, legal, and corporate management.
In 1899, the American drug manufacturer Merck & Co. first published a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists titled Merck's Manual of the Materia Medica. It was meant as an aid to physicians and pharmacists, reminding doctors that “Memory is treacherous.” Compact in size, easy to use, and comprehensive, The Merck Manual (as it was later known) became a favorite of those involved in medical care and others in need of a medical reference. Even Albert Schweitzer carried a copy to Africa in 1913, and Admiral Byrd carried a copy to the South Pole in 1929.
Over the years, each subsequent edition of the book grew in size and scope, eventually becoming one of the world's most widely used comprehensive medical resources. By the 1980s, the book was translated into more than a dozen languages.
In 1990, we introduced The Merck Manual of Geriatrics. This book quickly became the best-selling textbook of geriatric medicine, providing specific and comprehensive information on the care of older people. The 3rd edition was published in five languages. The Merck Manual of Health & Aging, published in 2004, continued Merck's commitment to education in geriatric care, providing information on aging and older people’s health issues in words understandable by the public.
In 1997, The Merck Manual of Medical Information–Home Edition was published. In this revolutionary book, the editors translated the complex medical information in The Merck Manual into everyday language, producing a book accessible by people who did not have a medical degree. That book was updated in 2003 to become The Second Home Edition, and in 2009 to become The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook.
In 1999, the centennial edition (the 17th) of The Merck Manual was published and the first digital versions of The Manuals were made available for free online. Shortly thereafter, The Manuals were release as handheld apps to take advantage of advances in technology and to better meet the information needs of readers.
Over the years, The Manuals, both professional and consumer, have been translated into 17 languages. A number of these translations have also been available online. Digital versions of The Manuals outside of North America are titled the MSD Manuals.
In 2014, the decision was made to move to digital-only publications. Continuously updating the content digitally allows The Manuals to keep pace with the current rapid advances in medical information. Digital publication also allows The Manuals to include all manner of multimedia and frees them from the need to fit information within the confines of bound books.