The future of independent drug bulletins
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), we can perhaps be forgiven for reflecting on a distinguished, sometimes controversial history, while also considering the future for DTB and independent drug bulletins.
When the first issue appeared on 20 April 1962, branded as “The Medical Letter – a non-profit making publication on drugs and therapeutics – British Edition” it was clearly a different world to today, although interestingly the first article reviewed two drugs that are still in use – morphine and pethidine.1
DTB's vision and that of many drug bulletins worldwide is to provide practical advice and rigorous, independent evaluations of medicines and other therapeutic interventions.2 With the volume of published information overwhelming healthcare professionals, and so much of it freely available, is there a place for publications such as DTB? Of course, we believe that the answer is yes. The need for authoritative information on topics of clinical relevance that has been produced independent of pharmaceutical industry, government and regulatory bodies is perhaps never greater. However, many bulletin producers, including DTB, rely entirely on the financial support of subscribers to be able to invest in an editorial and peer-review infrastructure to produce high-quality material. DTB's content creation process continues to evolve but essentially relies on article ideas being developed by the Editorial Board, with a first draft being written by a commissioned author using an evidence base identified by a systematic literature search. The first draft of the article is extensively peer-reviewed and re-written by editors associated with DTB. This transformation produces an article based on the evidence but informed by practical clinical opinion. As a result, all material published in DTB is unsigned, and becomes the collective responsibility of those involved in its production. …