New report: Independent therapeutic advice — how achievable is it?

17 September 2013

‘Independent therapeutic advice: how achievable is it?’ — a report summarising the proceedings of the Independence Forum hosted by Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd — was published this month on the Australian Prescriber website.

The forum brought together national and international experts and ethicists to discuss and debate issues of independence and conflicts of interest in the context of therapeutic information for health professionals, especially prescribers.

The two eminent overseas speakers at the Independence Forum, Professor Silvio Garattini from the Mario Negri Institute in Italy and Assistant Professor Barbara Mintzes from University of British Columbia, Canada, reflected the importance of this global issue.

Some of the thought-provoking – and at times controversial – issues covered were:

  • the suitability of current sources of research funding
  • the strengths and limitations of conventional concepts of evidence and whether the evidence base can be relied upon
  • the need for appropriate degrees of separation between experts involved in guideline development and their interests.

The report puts forward recommendations to improve the quality of the evidence base and trustworthiness of guidelines. Specifically, the recommendations include issues such as the need for public funding of clinical trials and reforms of regulatory requirements relating to new drugs, and improvements in critical appraisal skills and the management of competing interests.  

The report will be of interest to:

  • organisations involved in developing or using guidelines
  • lecturers responsible for the teaching of therapeutics and evidence-based medicine
  • health policy makers who rely on guidelines to make decisions
  • health professionals who use guidelines as a basis for their decision-making.

The conference report is published as a supplement to Australian Prescriber and is available at


Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at 

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