Editing a good quality original article for a drug bulletin takes time. To save time, energy and resources, the exchange and adaptation of good-quality articles among bulletins may be very useful for topics that are common to different countries with similar health care conditions.
Before beginning to write an original article, it is worth checking to see whether another bulletin has already produced an article on the same topic. An article may be reproduced, translated, summarised or adapted. This avoids unnecessary waste of resources, especially for new bulletins or bulletins with few people involved. It also allows editors to concentrate their energy on local topics requiring original work. Using existing material can also help well-established bulletins to show their readers that health professionals in one country can benefit from outside experience. An article from another country or an external source may also add weight to a controversial position (see Box 7.2).
Box 7.2 Mutual support among bulletins
Many examples from ISDB show how bulletins can support each other:
• During one of the first misleading public promotional campaigns in France (the campaign on sumatriptan), la revue Prescrire contributed to a more objective appraisal of the evidence not only through its own articles, but also by publishing summaries of articles on the drug from Geneesmiddelenbulletin, Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, Informazioni sui Farmaci, and Pharma Selecta.
• TheNetwork in Pakistan was able to raise questions about why chlormezanone was still on the market in Pakistan when other countries had withdrawn the drug, referring to articles in bulletins of countries that had taken regulatory action.
• The bulletin of the Swedish Medical Products Agency, Information fran Läkemedelsverket, and la revue Prescrire have produced a collaborative study comparing their judgement on the added therapeutic value of newly marketed drugs. The fact that these very different bulletins often reach the same conclusions gives weight to their assessments.4
It is sometimes possible to collaborate with local or national institutions and to reproduce their materials if the information supports rational drug use. If foreign material is used, careful adaptation is obviously essential. In some cases this may not be possible, for example, if the health care systems of the two countries are too different.
Specific rules govern the reproduction of existing materials (see also Section 11.5 of Chapter 11):
• Copyright rules governing periodicals, textbooks, formularies, recommendations and guidelines, as well as the publications of organizations such as WHO, non-governmental organizations, scientific societies, etc. may vary. To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is important to contact the publisher and ask about conditions for reproduction.
• Always state the source of any reprinted material, including tables, drawings and any other graphic material.
Most organizations allow reproduction of their materials and are often pleased to be able to help bulletins.