The Bulletin was started in 1950, a year after the appearance of the first publication describing the benefit of cortisone in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.1 The initial success of cortisone was publicized widely in the lay as well as the professional press, and the word spread dramatically. There was a state of optimism in the public and the medical profession about the possibility of successfully treating and maybe curing inflammatory arthritic diseases. This resulted in the need for information about arthritic diseases for the public and the medical profession. Another important factor that contributed to this optimism and stimulated the funding of nonprofit organizations and federally funded research was the fact that World War II was over, and the United States economy was expanding with the adult population at work. In this environment, the Bulletin was born.
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The first editor, Joseph J. Bunim, MD, stated in his introduction that, “the need for such a publication was made evident by the realization that although much remained unknown in this complex field, much of what was known was not reaching the practicing physician.” The purpose of the Bulletin was “to keep doctors abreast of the more important clinical advances and changing concepts of rheumatic diseases promptly and simply.”3 This continued to be the purpose of the Bulletin.
The editors over the years who have insured the quality and continuity of the Bulletin are:
1950–1961 Joseph J. Bunim, MD
1962–1965 Ronald W. Lamont–Havers, MD
1966–1982 Gerald P. Rodman, MD
1983–1990 Evelyn V. Hess, MD
1991–1998 John S. Sergent, MD
1998–2004 Doyt L. Conn, MD
Fifty years ago, the information that the physicians had to guide management came from textbooks and, in the realm of rheumatic diseases, from the Bulletin on Rheumatic Diseases and from Rheumatism Reviews. The American Association for the Study and Control of Rheumatism, which became the American Rheumatism Association, was a physician group organized in 1934.4 In that year, the organization initiated a yearly or biyearly review of the rheumatism literature, called Rheumatism Reviews. This continued through 1978.
From its start in 1950 until 1987, the Bulletin was sponsored by the ARA, then after 1987 by the AF. From 1992 to 2004, the Bulletin was sponsored by pharmaceutical companies through the AF.5 Because of this, there might be an assumption that the Bulletin was industry influenced. I can say, as the last editor, that the pharmaceutical sponsors did not influence editorial content or perspective. From 2000 through 2003, the Bulletin was offered on the Internet through the AF Web site and by print. It was offered only through the Internet in 2004 because there was no pharmaceutical funding. The decision by the AF to make the publication of the Bulletin contingent upon pharmaceutical funding probably marked the Bulletin’s demise. This is because most pharmaceutical-funded enterprises outside of their industry are usually short term–oriented and opportunistic.