Starting or Strengthening a Drug Bulletin - A Practical Manual
(2005; 165 pages) View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentPreface
View the documentHow the manual was produced
View the documentAbout ISDB
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contents1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. Rational use of medicines
Open this folder and view contents3. What are drug bulletins?
Open this folder and view contents4. Defining aims, target and type of bulletin
Open this folder and view contents5. Planning resources
Open this folder and view contents6. Planning bulletin production: schedules and timing
Open this folder and view contents7. The editorial process
Open this folder and view contents8. Reviewing a new drug: is it a therapeutic advance?
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexe to Chapter 8: Evaluating harm
Open this folder and view contents9. Design and production
Close this folder10. Dissemination
View the document10.1 Why dissemination is important
View the document10.2 Managing a subscription-based approach
View the document10.3 Guidelines for effective distribution
View the document10.4 Communicating your bulletin’s messages more widely
View the document10.5 Key messages
Open this folder and view contents11. Organizational and legal issues
Open this folder and view contents12. Evaluating quality and usefulness
Open this folder and view contents13. Partnership and collaboration
Open this folder and view contents14. Keeping records and creating a memory
Open this folder and view contentsAppendix: Electronic sources of information

10.1 Why dissemination is important

Bulletins are produced as a means of communication between the publisher and the readers, and such communication relies greatly on a good distribution. Nevertheless, some editors of drug bulletins may view the task of distributing the drug bulletin as an unnecessary and unwelcome burden. They may only be interested in producing good quality information and may never have learned, or even considered, how to promote or disseminate their 'message'. The importance of gaining a wide audience cannot be overestimated. In reality, planning the distribution of a bulletin should be seen as an integral part of production, in which the strategies for reaching the target audience are matched to the resources available.

Table 10.1. Financing arrangements and bulletin distribution

Source/type of financial support



Block funds provided by independent organizations such as: government departments, professional associations, consumer organizations.

• offers a means of reaching a wide readership at minimal cost or ‘free of charge’, for example to all doctors or pharmacists nationally.

• can affect the bulletin’s independence;
• vulnerable to changes in the sponsor’s policies, political changes.

Funds offering indirect financial support:
• bulletin included in mailings of another journal, such as medical or pharmacy journal.

• the bulletin’s staff does not need to do the distribution work;
• the bulletin may gain credibility among the audience from an association with a prestigious national journal.

• readers may associate the bulletin too closely with the journal, which may contain adverts or which has editorial content unrelated to the bulletin;
• the bulletin has to rely on the publishing arrangements of the sponsor, and so delivery times may be delayed or schedules inconvenient.

Income from individual subscriptions.

• long-term sustainability may be better with many subscribers compared with one big sponsor;
• subscription rates provide an ongoing indication of the bulletin’s success;
• this is efficient as only those who want to read the bulletin get it.

• much time and effort may be spent trying to find (and keep) subscribers;
• in developing countries, the audience may not be able to afford the subscription fee;
• those who most need the information may not subscribe.

Adequate financing is a prerequisite for good circulation (see Chapter 5). However, the wider the readership the more difficult and costly it is to distribute a bulletin. If the circulation is large the cost can sometimes be prohibitive, because, in addition to the cost of the larger print run, funding will be needed to cover such things as the cost of stamps, envelopes and people to manage distribution (e.g. keep subscriber lists up-to-date, chase up subscribers to ensure subscription renewal, deal with subscribers’ queries, run recruitment campaigns for new subscribers such as newly qualified doctors or pharmacists). All of this work needs reliable and dedicated budgetary support.

Sources of financing relate closely to distribution, in that self-financed bulletins often rely on subscriptions, while bulletins supported by a government agency or other organization are often distributed to doctors and/or pharmacists free of charge. Table 10.1 describes some key advantages and disadvantages of different financing arrangements as they relate to bulletin distribution.

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