The Editorial Executive Committee welcomes letters, which should be less than 250 words. Before a decision to publish is made, letters which refer to a published article may be sent to the author for a response. Any letter may be sent to an expert for comment. When letters are published, they are usually accompanied in the same issue by their responses or comments. The Committee screens out discourteous, inaccurate or libellous statements. The letters are sub-edited before publication. Authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest. The Committee's decision on publication is final.

Letter to the editor

Editor, – Your editorial 'Are medical journals selling out' (Aust Prescr 1993; 16:50-1) raised a real issue, even if it only applies to half a dozen medical journals in the country. At the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine, all advertising is cleared through the Editor and the Clinical Pharmacology Sub-Editor and I estimate that about one advertisement in 5 requires some amendment.

The difficulties relate to the logistics of advertising. The advertising agent books the space in the journal many months ahead, but the copy is first presented as the final bromide for printing about two weeks before the issue goes to press. It is then difficult but not impossible to have advertising material changed. As far as I can tell, the journal's policy has not deterred advertising, although I imagine it would be hard to find out if it did.

Critical analysis of published data, either in editorial or advertising space, is not taught in many medical schools.

Perhaps Australian Prescriber could commission a critical analyst to write a feature or even have an 'ad. a month' section which, even within the libel laws, might provide an adequate base for demonstrating the relevant skills.

Graham Macdonald
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine
Sydney, N.S.W.