Many bulletins publish articles with information on individual drugs or classes of drugs. This may include an overview of benefits and harms of drugs and the conditions for their appropriate use, and information on how new drugs compare with existing treatment options. The focus of a bulletin article may also be on how best to manage a medical problem. Many bulletins try to include a balance between articles that focus primarily on specific drugs and others that focus primarily on treatment of specific diseases or problems. The emphasis of a bulletin’s content often reflects the target audience: for example, bulletins distributed mainly to pharmacists tend to be more drug-oriented, those mainly for doctors often focus on treatment of a specific disease or health condition. Some, which have a mixed audience, are actively promoting good collaboration among health professionals in the best interest of patients.
In many countries, up-to-date information on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is especially hard to get and health professionals are largely unaware of what types of harm to watch out for or how to report suspected adverse effects. Some bulletins, such as Spain’s Butlleti Groc [http://www.icf.uab.es/informacion/boletines/bg/asp/bg_e.asp] and Prescriber Update from New Zealand [http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/Profs/PUarticles.htm], focus entirely on ADRs and are produced by organizations concerned with pharmacovigilance. The aim is to get the information on ADRs collected by a pharmacovigilance centre back out to doctors and pharmacists, and to stimulate more awareness of the need to report ADRs.
Another specialised type of bulletin deals with clinical toxicology and the management of poisoning. The National Poisons Centre in Malaysia publishes two bulletins (PRN8099 in English and PanawaRacun in Malay) with information on avoidance and treatment of poisoning, as well as on the use of medicines [http://www.prn2.usm.my/mainsite/bulletin/index.html].
Several bulletins focus on national and international drug policies, highlighting problems in the way medicines are provided, marketed and regulated, and discussing strategies for improvement. Their focus may be on a broad range of drug policies or a specific policy issue. For example, The Network’s Drug Bulletin in Pakistan also covers news items on international measures to ban or withdraw unsafe drugs [http://www.thenetwork.org.pk/magdb.htm].