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From info-desert to info-demic: the role of independent drug bulletins
  1. David Phizackerley1,
  2. James A Cave2
  1. 1 DTB, BMJ Journals, London, UK
  2. 2 The Downland Practice, Berkshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to David Phizackerley, DTB, BMJ Journals, London, UK; dphizackerley{at}

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In the late 1950s and early 1960s independent drug bulletins first began to be published. At that time, laws on the licensing of medicines had yet to be introduced, there was little effective control of marketing and promotion of medicines, and summaries of product characteristics for prescribers and information leaflets on medicines for patients did not exist.1 2 Crucially, there was a little recognition of the importance of scientific evidence to clinical practice and few publications provided clinicians with independent evaluations on the use of medicines.

Birth of independent drug bulletins

The first independent drug bulletin, The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, was introduced in the USA in 1959.2 In 1962, the UK Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin was launched ‘to provide clinicians with clear, reliable, usable, impartial and independent information to help ensure patients [got] the best deal’.1 Both publications stressed the importance of improving the health of patients and were born out of organisations that had been developed to support consumers (the Consumers’ Union in the USA and the Consumers’ Association …

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  • Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note This article was first published as a blog for World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day 2021 (