About 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
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.
Fulfilling the Mission
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
History of The Merck Manuals
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
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.
Last full review/revision June 2012