Those involved in prescribing and using drugs need access to information which will enable them to use drugs, when they are needed, in ways which maximise the potential benefits and minimise the risks. Independent drug bulletins provide valuable information in a summarised and readable form which can help those involved in decisions about drugs to make those decisions wisely. The first few independent drug bulletins were established in the 1960s and the International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB) was founded in 1986.
Over the last 20 years many new drug bulletins have been established both in developing and industrialised countries and in the Newly Independent States. Many of these new bulletins have received advice and support from existing bulletins and from ISDB. In addition, ISDB has organized several training schools and regional meetings at which participants exchange experiences and develop the skills necessary to develop and run a quality drug bulletin (see http://www.isdbweb.org). Apart from these training schools and the informal contacts between members there have been few opportunities to share experiences and there is a lack of written information about the specific work of drug bulletins. This has made it difficult for those involved in new bulletins to benefit from the work of others. Often they have to discover for themselves the methods and procedures which have already been tried and tested by others. Unnecessary duplication of effort wastes time and resources. Sharing skills and experiences not only reduces this waste but it also contributes to the development of high quality bulletins and to a shared philosophy and common understanding of goals. Working together is one way of maintaining both quality and commitment. This manual is produced as a result of collaboration, and should strengthen future collaboration between bulletins.