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The Journal is our watchman

From Professor A. T. Florence, FRPharmS


I ran past the watchman. Then I was horrified, ran back again and said to the watchman: “I ran through here while you were looking the other way.” The watchman still said nothing.  “Does your silence indicate permission to pass?” — Franz Kafka


Perhaps Electronicjuice is our watchman. When my weekend post comes with a variety of journals and magazines, I still turn first to the PJ, even though the pharmaceutics journal which I edit is often in the pile. The Lancet, Science and others can wait. This is not a sentimental or reflex action, although the PJ has been a household item before I can remember. It is because the print copy is vital as our only tangible and regular link with the profession. As the editorial of the 23/30 March 2013 issue suggests, the reduction in letters may be due to the lively online discussions that there are. However, unless the whole membership goes online, the debate is between a relatively small group of the committed. But how much more time can we all spend gazing at the electronic word, choosing what to see and store, let alone read?  

No one journal can fulfill any individual’s needs, but The Journal provides an insight into all aspects of pharmacy, and the letters pages are essential to foster a lively and democratic professional body as much as for society at large. I am saddened that the thousands of pharmacists who are not members of the Society miss out on such a resource and cut themselves off from debate. The 23/30 March 2013 issue also contained well written articles citing Nietzsche, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford and Allan Fromme inter alia. Kafka’s cautionary tale of the silence of the night watchman is appropriate to our discourse or our silence. If the Society, if The Journal does not hear constructive dissent we all are diminished. 

The editors are to be commended for their work in commissioning and accepting material for publication. If some members believe that there are issues that are never raised, the remedy is obvious. Those who would wish to see more clinical material or more NHS-related information (as suggested in earlier letters) or say that there is a lack of relevance to their own sector of pharmacy could remedy the situation by submitting material for publication or suggest specific topics for submission.

As an editor I am only too aware that content is dictated by the material received or commissioned. As a profession we are not strong in putting into print our research, observations and findings. Sometimes we do not seem to know what we want to be. We all have biases. My own include the wish to see more detailed and discursive notes on new medicines, perhaps even with a molecular structure or two so that we can understand more about actions, adverse reactions, analogies, cross-reactivities and where the molecule stands in the pharmaceutical canon; to read of the development of new communication technologies to improve domiciliary care, or a look at European pharmacy, such as the involvement of French pharmacists in bioanalytical laboratories.

New technologies, such as three-dimensional printing that might revolutionise the production of personalised medicines in pharmacies of the future, deserve attention if we as a profession are to be in the forefront. But if I want to read these topics in the PJ maybe I had better stick to my own advice and write or persuade friends more knowledgeable than I to do so.


Alexander Florence

Nice, France

Citation: Electronicjuice DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11120065

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