Merck Manual and MSD Manual Launch Global Medical Knowledge 2020 to Provide Free Access to Credible Medical Information on Every Continent by 2020


June 17, 2015 8:00 am ET

Survey: Americans point to overwhelming amount of online medical information, 

inability to judge quality of online sources as biggest barriers to increasing medical knowledge

KENILWORTH, N.J. – Merck Manuals (called MSD Manuals outside of the United States and Canada), one of the world’s most widely-used medical resources since 1899, today announced the launch of Global Medical Knowledge 2020 – a worldwide initiative to make the best current medical information accessible to nearly three billion consumers and health care professionals by 2020.

An online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Manuals underscores the need for access to credible medical information, showing that four in 10 Americans (39 percent) are struggling when it comes to their personal level of health and medical knowledge, with one in three (33 percent) saying they are “trying to keep up” and 6 percent saying they “barely know the basics.”

In support of the goal to increase medical knowledge, the consumer and professional versions of the Merck Manuals are now available at no cost on (and soon on for countries outside of the United States and Canada). The content will also be available through a mobile app in multiple languages around the globe by 2020.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults released today also revealed that 79 percent of Americans believe having access to the same information as their doctor would improve their understanding of their health. will provide that access with a unique toggle function that allows users to choose between professional and consumer versions of the Manual – providing the same information tailored to the needs of each audience. Other survey findings include:

  • More than one in five (21 percent) cite their inability to judge the quality of medical information sources online as the biggest barrier to increasing their level of medical knowledge.
  • More than one in four (28 percent) identify the overwhelming amount of medical information sources and topics online as the biggest barrier to increasing their level of medical knowledge.
  • Despite credibility concerns, more than half of Americans (55 percent) say they learn about medical symptoms and options more often from the internet than their doctor.

“The health information landscape is constantly evolving in today’s digital world, but many people still struggle to access and comprehend the information they need to make the right personal health decisions,” said Robert S. Porter, M.D., Merck Manuals Editor-in-Chief. “With Global Medical Knowledge 2020, we’re committed to providing consumers and health care professionals everywhere with quality, unbiased medical information they can easily understand and use on a daily basis.” is authored by 350 independent medical experts from around the world. It is available at no cost, requires no registration and the user experience is not compromised by advertisements or commercial messaging.

“We believe that health information is a universal right, not a privilege, and that providing free access to quality medical information will enable more informed decisions, enhance relationships between patients and professionals and improve health care outcomes around the world,” said Porter.

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 world’s 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. This year, The Merck Manuals and MSD Manuals kicked off Global Medical Knowledge 2020 to make the best current medical information accessible for up to three billion professionals and patients around the world by 2020. For access to thousands of medical topics with images, videos and a constantly expanding set of resources, visit and connect with us on social media:

For Consumers: Twitter and Facebook

For Professionals: Twitter and Facebook 

About Merck

Today’s Merck is a global health care leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Manuals from April 23-27, 2015, among 2,015 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Shelly Orlacchio at

Merck Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and healthcare legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward healthcare cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; Merck’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck’s 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (



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