The policies of drug bulletins mean they can offer advice that differs from that available from other sources. Bulletins are published frequently and so can be up to date. Transparent working and editorial independence, which are key features of drug bulletins, allow them to present impartial and unbiased evaluations and discuss controversial topics which the industry or an official government publication avoids. Bulletins can criticise individual advertising claims, therapeutic recommendations and official licensing decisions.
Being independent allows bulletins to determine their own terms of reference. Most bulletins base their recommendations about treatments on assessments of relative efficacy, relative safety, relative quality, relative cost and relative ease-of-use when compared to other medicines that are already available or, where appropriate, to other types of therapy (e.g. surgery, physiotherapy, psychotherapy).
Bulletin editors understand the full context of their local health care system (laws, customs, politics, practice), and have a practical knowledge of the system’s culture and history. The special skills of the editorial team members enable them to integrate the principles of rational use of medicines with the real world of medical practice. They can clarify and resolve differences in technical, political and commercial pressures, offer advice in the absence of relevant evidence, and so can produce practical conclusions that incorporate epidemiological and socio-economic data on which readers can act with confidence.