Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, April 22, 1999 - The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, the most widely used general medical textbook in the world, celebrates its 100th birthday today with the publication of the new Centennial Edition.
The oldest continuously published medical textbook in the English language, 17 editions of The Merck Manual have been published since 1899 as a non-profit service to the scientific community by Merck & Co., Inc., a worldwide leader in the discovery of medicines. More than 10 million copies have been sold worldwide in 16 languages.
According to Co-Editor Robert Berkow, M.D., a physician who has served as editor-in-chief of The Merck Manual since 1974, the explosion in medical technology, information, diagnosis and treatment makes the Centennial Edition a vital necessity for today's clinicians. "The Centennial Edition includes more updates and revisions than any edition in the past 20 years," he said. "Yet the premise behind the book remains constant: To help clinicians achieve the best care for patients by providing information that is current, concise, and complete, because, as stated in every edition, 'Memory is treacherous.'"
The Merck Manual delivers useful, peer-reviewed information to practicing physicians, nurses, chiropractors, dentists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, students, and other health care professionals. The book covers all subjects expected in a textbook of internal medicine, as well as detailed information on pediatrics, geriatrics, gynecology, psychiatry, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, dental disorders, and other special subjects.
Although The Merck Manual always has been written for the benefit of practicing physicians and other health care professionals, for many years it also was a favorite reference for non-professionals. This led to the introduction in 1997 of a consumer version of the reference book titled The Merck Manual of Medical Information - Home Edition. It quickly became a national best seller, with more than a million copies in print.
Extensively revised, the Centennial Edition of The Merck Manual reflects the ever-increasing and rapidly changing body of medical knowledge. New additions include cutting-edge information on topics such as drug therapy for the elderly, rehabilitation, care of the dying, Gulf War syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The Centennial Edition also has been completely redesigned into an easy-to-read two-column format. It is nearly 3,000 pages, divided into 23 thumb-indexed sections.
"The more specialized the practice of medicine becomes, the more important information becomes," said Co-Editor Mark H. Beers, M.D. "Specialists as well as generalists must at some time quickly access information about other specialties. And that is the time to reach for the up-to-date Centennial Edition."
Throughout its 100-year old history, reach for it they have. From Admiral Byrd to Albert Schweitzer to Peace Corps volunteers, from medical students to pharmacists, The Merck Manual has provided trusted and accurate information.
"It's reassuring to have it available," said Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Chancellor Emeritus, Baylor College of Medicine, and a pioneer of 20th Century medicine. "It's almost like having a dictionary when you want to look up a word and know the exact meaning of it."
A Century of Trust
To celebrate the 100-year milestone, the Centennial Edition is packaged with a complimentary facsimile of the 192-page First Edition. Comparing Merck's 1899 Manual, as it was called, with the new Centennial Edition offers a glimpse of how much has changed, and yet stayed the same, in medicine during the last century.
For example, in the facsimile one will find tobacco listed as a possible treatment for asthma. New to the Centennial Edition are stepwise treatment guidelines for asthma, a description of a new class of oral drugs for asthma, and a chapter on smoking cessation.
In 1899, tobacco also was listed as a suggested treatment for nymphomania "so as to cause nausea; effectual, but depressing." Nymphomania is no longer classified as a condition warranting medical intervention, but the Centennial Edition for the first time includes a description of ViagraO to treat impotence.
In 1899, The Merck Manual cost $1.00, about the equivalent of a week's worth of groceries: two dozen eggs, three pounds of flour, one pound of bacon, one pound of butter, 10 pounds of potatoes, and a one-pound round steak. It now costs $35, far less than a week's groceries.
In addition to the Centennial Edition and the Home Edition, Merck's family of references includes The Merck Manual of Geriatrics, The Merck Veterinary Manual, and The Merck Index. All references, including the Home Edition, are published on a not-for-profit basis.
Merck & Co., Inc., is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets a broad range of human and animal health products, directly and through its joint ventures, and provides pharmaceutical benefit services through Merck - Medco Managed Care.
The Centennial Edition of The Merck Manual is available at bookstores nationwide or by calling 1-800-659-6598.