A remarkable number of organizations and individuals are actively working on health issues. To identify a potential partner, it is important to understand its objectives and to recognise the driving forces of the organization. Unfortunately, many patients’ organizations and associations of health professionals are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and are therefore to an uncomfortable extent tied to the industry’s goals. This is liable to cause conflicts of interest and can create pressure on the bulletin to tone down its conclusions and avoid publishing critical articles; fears about how sponsors might react can make potential partners hesitate to help a drug bulletin.
When seeking partners, it is worth asking the advice of organizations that have already proved their commitment to the promotion of rational drug use. Box 13.3 lists some international organizations that promote the rational use of drugs. Box 13.4 is a list of questions you may want to ask potential partners and networks.
Box 13.3 Some organizations promoting the rational use of drugs
• International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB) [http://www.isdbweb.org]
• Healthy Skepticism [http://www.healthyskepticism.org/]
• Health Action International (HAI) [http://www.haiweb.org/]
• The International Network for Rational Use of Drugs (INRUD) [www.inrud.org/]
• E-Drug: [http://www.essentialdrugs.org/]
• Cochrane Collaboration [http://www.cochrane.org/index0.htm]
• Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) [http://www.sign.ac.uk/]
• WHO:Department of Medicines Policy and Standards Policy, WHO Geneva
• No free lunch [http://www.nofreelunch.org/]
Box 13.4 Questions to ask of potential partners and networks
• Who are the founders and/or members of the organization?
• What are its main objectives?
• If this is a network, who are the partner organizations?
• Who does the network represent?
• From what sources does the organization get funding?
• What have been the organization’s recent activities? Does it have some recent examples of its work, such as publications or other written materials?