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.