Myself, I'm not really moved by the claim that publishing standards were so different 6 years ago that Elsevier has clean hands here. It's pretty obvious from this response that Elsevier was happy to take money from Merck to make something journal-like, trading on Elsevier's reputation as a publisher of proper journals. And the "no plans to look further into the matter" comment does not really speak to an awareness by Elsevier that its reputation as a publisher of proper journals is damaged by shenanigans like this.
This is the kind of thing that makes you wonder if the model of journal publishing for profit ought to have a future, at least where scientific and medical journals are concerned.
I think the only recourse here is actually to shun publication in journals owned by Elsevier. Certainly, that's what I will be doing (noting that the big journal in my field - Journal of the History of Biology - is published by them and that I have been working on a manuscript that I intended sending there).
I'm sure there are some sort of ethical issues here.
Without being a lawyer I think there is a good case for criminal fraud here!
As a historian of science I find it particularly sad that Elsevier has sunk so low as this is the company who published Galileo's "Discorsi".
Elsevier has been engaging in several unsavory journal publishing practices of late. Just in the last six months there was the kerfluffle over the editor of Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, a Dr. El Naschie, publishing with undue frequency in that journal (a Google search turned up this Slashdot article, and I recall some discussion on ScienceBlogs at the time). In the course of searching for that story I came across several links discussing the 2006 resignation of the entire editorial board of Topology over what they thought was the excessive cost of the journal. Now there is this scandal.
At this point I would have to question whether a university library should be spending any money subscribing to Elsevier journals.
I'd guess this is an action in response to the FDA's recent change in its policies on dissemination of journal articles.
Merck Published Bogus Journal: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/5921
In an age of confusion catalyzed by information overload, for a prestigious guardian of scientific knowledge add to that confusion is more than disconcerting. (blog)