Editorial independence

Approved by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Committee on Publications and Board of Directors

The mission of AHFS Drug Information (AHFS DI) is to provide an evidence-based foundation for safe and effective drug therapy. Information included in AHFS DI shapes treatment decisions made by clinicians and influences public and private health care policy and decisions. As a result, it is important that the information be authoritative, objective, and free of undue influence from pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurers, pharmacy benefits managers, and other third parties who may seek to use the compendium to promote their own vested interests. Editorial decisions are evidence-based and made independent of such third parties; final decisions are made solely by the AHFS editorial staff, taking into account the advice of expert reviewers.

Widely trusted for its established record in refuting unfounded efficacy claims, its rigorous science-based editorial process, and its independence from the influence of pharmaceutical manufacturers, AHFS DI has remained true to its mission for almost 50 years.

AHFS DI is the only remaining official drug compendium published by a non-commercial entity (i.e., by a tax-exempt ["nonprofit"] professional association). The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is an IRS 501(c)(6) tax exempt entity. ASHP is the national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in inpatient, outpatient, home-care, and long-term-care settings. ASHP has a long history of fostering evidence-based medication use as well as patient medication safety--efforts designed to help pharmacists improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care.

AHFS DI is published by ASHP under the authority of its elected Board of Directors. As such, the Board exercises oversight through its ongoing Society considerations as well as through its Committee on Publications. This oversight by the Board also involves review and approval of relevant recommendations originating from its appointed Commission on Therapeutics and the advisory and best practices developments of its Councils, House of Delegates, and other policy-recommending bodies.

In addition, hundreds of experts, principally physicians but also other clinicians, leading medical scientists, pharmacists, pharmacologists, and other professionally qualified individuals, participate in an ongoing extramural review process for AHFS DI. Participation is solicited but voluntary, and no honorarium nor other benefit (e.g., complimentary subscription) is provided. These experts must provide full disclosure of interest, including any affiliation with or financial involvement in the manufacturer of the drug(s) under consideration and directly competitive products.

ASHP considers it essential that interactions between AHFS and pharmaceutical manufacturers be limited to the legitimate exchange of the scientific and medical information needed to fulfill the mission of AHFS DI. To maintain independence from the undue influence of the promotional interests of pharmaceutical manufacturers, communications are directed to the scientific and medical information areas within the companies; contact with marketing areas is avoided.

ASHP holds in high regard the responsibilities attendant to the public and private trust placed in the evidence-based editorial deliberations of AHFS. As such, ASHP also considers it essential to protect the integrity and independence of the editorial decisions of AHFS staff by separating the Society's business activities with pharmaceutical manufacturers (e.g., exhibits at educational meetings, journal advertising) from the editorial activities of its drug compendium. AHFS staff apply the following principles of editorial independence in weighing the propriety of their conduct:

  1. AHFS staff should avoid participating in business discussions with pharmaceutical manufacturers and other ASHP staff should avoid engaging AHFS staff in such discussions.
  2. AHFS staff must disclose any potential financial conflicts of interest or other external activities that may affect their editorial decisions on specific drugs. AHFS staff should not hold financial interests that conflict or may influence the conscientious performance of their editorial duty.
  3. AHFS staff may not solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary value from any individual or entity seeking official action or influence from the compendium nor from those whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the staff's editorial duties.
  4. AHFS staff have an obligation to act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any interested individual or organization that might influence their editorial decisions.
  5. AHFS staff should avoid actions that might create the appearance that they are violating these principles of ethical conduct and editorial independence. Any such behavior shall be judged from the perspective of a reasonable individual in a similar situation with knowledge of the relevant facts. When necessary, the expert advice of other staff (e.g., professional practice, corporate counsel) should be sought.
  6. On occasion, ASHP may determine that the Society's interest in the staff's participation in a particular activity or discussion outweighs any concern that a reasonable individual might question the integrity of the activity.
  7. AHFS staff members with questions about their activities that are not addressed by these principles on editorial independence shall refer their questions to the Vice President of Publishing and Editor of AHFS.