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

Given what we know about the effects of conflicts with the pharmaceutical industry and medical practice, it is simply no longer acceptable to have significant conflicts of interest and provide meaningful information on the benefits and harms of medicines, especially psychiatric medicines. There is a scholarly review of this issue by the co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration and co-author of the CONSORT guidelines.1

Some articles in Australian Prescriber are written by authors who have received payments from the pharmaceutical industry. Your publication – and NPS MedicineWise – risks losing its stature if it continues publishing reviews by extensively conflicted authors.

Robert Purssey


Authors' comments

The Editorial Executive Committee of Australian Prescriber comments:

The Editorial Executive Committee thanks Dr Purssey for raising the topic of conflict of interest. This topic is of particular importance to organisations that produce independent drug information.2

There are several ways that conflict of interest is dealt with in Australian Prescriber. All authors and referees are asked to declare any conflicts of interest. The members of the Editorial Committee also have to declare any conflicts of interest and they provide an annual statement of their interests to NPS MedicineWise, the publisher of Australian Prescriber.

The Editorial Committee does not automatically reject articles written by authors who declare a conflict of interest. Many clinicians have received support from the pharmaceutical industry to conduct clinical trials. While this may raise the risk of bias, the Editorial Committee believes this can be managed during the editorial process. All articles and editorials are peer-reviewed not only externally, but also by each member of the Editorial Committee. Usually extensive changes are made to articles submitted to Australian Prescriber. The Editorial Committee is confident that this process reduces the risk of the published version of a paper being biased by a conflict of interest.