John Dowden.

The transfer of Australian Prescriber from NPS MedicineWise to Therapeutic Guidelines Limited is not the only recent milestone in the history of the journal.1 At least as momentous is the end of Dr John Dowden’s 32-year editorship of the journal (1990–2022).

From the time of his appointment, John’s strong sense of the purpose of Australian Prescriber meant he was always prepared to use the columns of the journal to publicise issues he saw as impacting the quality use of medicines in Australia. John led the editorial team by example, attending every meeting of the Editorial Executive Committee during his tenure and ensuring the highest standards were maintained.

The history of Australian Prescriber has been documented by John.2,3 Highlights of his tenure as Editor in Chief include navigating the difficult transitions between publishers, from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Branch of the Department of Community Services and Health, as it was then known, and later to the National Prescribing Service (later NPS MedicineWise); increasing the frequency of publication from 4 to 6 issues a year; ensuring Australian Prescriber became one of the first medical journals in the world to make its full text freely available online; the inclusion of the journal in PubMed; and maintaining the journal as an active and influential member of the International Society of Drug Bulletins. John oversaw the journal through the challenging move away from print publishing to an online-only journal, and supported the editorial team in creating the popular Australian Prescriber Podcast.

A particular strength of John’s was his ability to digest clinical data on drugs recently registered with the TGA, and prepare concise and clear New Drug comments for the journal. His background in general practice also gave him a clear vision of the concerns and challenges of practitioners at the healthcare coalface. His greatest strength, however, was his deep understanding of how important it was for a journal such as Australian Prescriber to be transparently independent. For John, independence was the rock on which the reputation of the journal would ultimately stand or fall. Thus, readers could always trust that the entire content of the journal had been written solely to assist them make the best decisions they could in the care of their patients.

Perhaps John’s ultimate legacy to Australian Prescriber readers is the survival of the journal itself. In the setting of ever-changing healthcare and publishing landscapes, John was the journal’s fiercest defender, ensuring the publication not only continued, but thrived, reaching new readers and delivering more high-quality, practical and relevant articles to busy health professionals.

It is common for a respected medical journal to have had an outstanding editor whose name becomes synonymous with that of their journal. In this manner, the names of John Dowden and Australian Prescriber are inextricably linked. Through his editorship of the journal, John has made an enormous contribution to improving the quality use of medicines in Australia.

We thank you, John, and wish you well for the future.

Acknowledgements: The Australian Prescriber Editorial Executive Committee (EEC) appreciates the input of Professor Rob Moulds (Chair of the EEC 2000–05 and EEC member 1991–2000) and Alli Patterson (Publishing Director of Therapeutic Guidelines Limited) in writing this valediction.


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