WHO Health Systems and Services
Medicines Documentation home
Series and Periodicals
Printable HTML version
Themes & Keywords
Medicine Information and Evidence for Policy
Information and Publications
Medicine Access and Rational Use
Starting or Strengthening a Drug Bulletin - A Practical Manual
(2005; 165 pages)
Table of Contents
How the manual was produced
1.1 Are you starting or developing a bulletin?
1.2 Objectives of this manual
1.3 The need for the manual
1.4 The importance of feedback
2. Rational use of medicines
2.1 The relationship between evidence and rational use
2.2 Other influences on the choice of medicines
2.3 Sources of information for prescribers
2.4 The special role of drug bulletins
2.5 Specific ways in which bulletins can help
2.6 Bulletins as part of wider initiatives for promoting rational use of medicines
3. What are drug bulletins?
3.2 The history of drug bulletins
3.3 What makes an ‘independent’ drug bulletin independent?
3.4 Types of editorial content
3.5 Styles of communicating information
3.6 The institutional base
4. Defining aims, target and type of bulletin
4.2 What is already available?
4.3 Information on drug utilisation helps you choose topics
4.4 Defining and refining the aims of the bulletin
4.5 Who are the readers?
4.6 What type of information is needed?
5. Planning resources
5.1 The first steps in planning
5.2 Identify what is already available or accessible
5.3 Make a realistic assessment of additional needs
5.4 Human resources: who will do the work?
5.4.1 The editorial team
5.4.2 The advisory board
5.4.3 External reviewers
5.5 Maintaining the motivation of contributors
5.6 Material resources - an office, equipment and references
5.7 Financial resources - the key to sustainability
5.8 Long-term sustainability
5.9 Cost-saving strategies
5.10 Key messages for starting a drug bulletin
6. Planning bulletin production: schedules and timing
6.1 Why is planning necessary?
6.2 Start modestly and grow gradually
6.3 Develop a framework for producing articles
6.4 Flexible planning for each issue
6.5 Allow time for delays in distribution
6.6 Integrate necessary sidelines into your overall planning
6.7 A few principles for planning the production of a bulletin
7. The editorial process
7.1 Outline of the editorial process
7.2 Editing a drug bulletin
7.2.1 Editorial independence
7.2.2 Strong and sustained editorial policy and a committed team
7.2.3 Selecting topics for articles
7.2.4 Using and adapting existing material
7.2.5 Planning a bulletin issue
7.3 Writing bulletin articles
7.3.1 Finding and motivating authors
7.3.2 Rewarding authors
7.3.3 Writing an article
7.3.4 Outlining the topic
7.3.5 Searching for documentation
7.3.6 The first draft
7.3.7 Discuss the draft with an editor
7.4 Reviewing the article
7.4.1 How many people should review an article?
7.4.2 Should a bulletin set up a permanent review board?
7.4.3 Should readers be included in the review board?
7.4.4 Should patients or lay people be included?
7.4.5 Should the pharmaceutical industry review drafts?
7.4.6 Tips for reviewing articles
7.4.7 Rewarding reviewers
7.5. Rewriting the article
7.6 Final checks
7.7 Follow-up after publication
7.7.2 Authors’ certificates
7.7.3 Post-publication correspondence
7.7.5 Requests for reproduction
7.7.6 Keeping track of how bulletin articles are quoted and used
8. Reviewing a new drug: is it a therapeutic advance?
8.2 When is a new treatment a therapeutic advance?
8.3 Collecting evidence about the drug
8.3.1 Where to find evidence on new drugs?
8.3.2 What about using unpublished information?
8.4 Evaluation in terms of efficacy, harm and convenience
8.4.2 Adverse effects/harms
8.5 Judging the overall value of the drug
8.5.1 Considering the new drug in the local and individual context
8.5.2 Overall rating scales
8.6.1 Compare costs in the light of true therapeutic value
8.6.2 Comparisons should be appropriate and practical
8.6.3 Bear in mind additional costs for using drugs
8.7 What patients need to know
Annexe to Chapter 8: Evaluating harm
8.An-1 Talk about harm, not risk
8.An-2 Assessment of causation of a harmful effect
8.An-3 Assessing coherence with preclinical data
8.An-3.1 General principles
8.An-3.2 Chemical structure of new drugs
8.An-3.3 Considering the profile of adverse effects
8.An-3.4 Ratio of toxic and efficacy level in the same animal
8.An-3.5 Extrapolation of animal toxicity (safety) level to humans
9. Design and production
9.1 Elements of good design
9.2 Creating the design
9.3 Using images
9.4 The production process
9.5 Developing a house style
9.6 Ensuring accuracy - proof reading
9.8 Electronic publishing
9.9 Further reading
10.1 Why dissemination is important
10.2 Managing a subscription-based approach
10.3 Guidelines for effective distribution
10.4 Communicating your bulletin’s messages more widely
10.5 Key messages
11. Organizational and legal issues
11.2 Why does a drug bulletin need a structure?
11.3 Different kind of structures
11.3.1 An association
11.3.2 A foundation
11.3.3 Other legal entities
11.3.4 A bulletin within another organization
11.4 How to deal with legal action
11.5.1 Limits to copyright
11.5.2 How is copyright created?
11.5.3 How to use copyrighted material
11.5.4 Fair use and quotes
11.6 Further reading
12. Evaluating quality and usefulness
12.2 Evaluation brings many benefits
12.3 Three approaches: audit, feedback and impact assessment
12.4 Start with your own evaluation of the bulletin
12.5 Assessing readers' opinions of the bulletin
12.5.1 Methods of assessing readers’ opinions
12.5.2 Potential problems
12.5.3 Selecting the data collection method
12.5.4 Planning the survey
12.5.5 How many replies are enough?
12.5.6 Drafting the questions
12.6 Evaluating the impact of the bulletin
12.7 Feedback is achievable and invaluable
12.8 Simple observations can tell a lot
13. Partnership and collaboration
13.1 The importance of supportive partners
13.2 Possibilities at national, regional and international levels
13.3 Various forms of collaboration
13.3.1 Twinning arrangements
13.3.2 Sharing information and resources
13.3.3 Using established bulletins’ expertise
13.3.4 Training sessions and workshops
13.3.5 Ongoing information exchange between bulletins
13.3.6 Collaborative research among bulletins
13.3.7 Information and support for funding applications
13.4 Identifying partners and networks
13.5 Clearly define conditions for partnership
14. Keeping records and creating a memory
14.1 Why keep records?
14.2 What to keep and record?
14.3 Creating an organizational memory
14.4 How to start an archive
14.5 Further reading
Appendix: Electronic sources of information
For general access to evidence
National disease prevention and control, health promotion etc.
Health technology assessment
Information about/for patients
Networks and directories
ISDB member bulletins
Feedback and evaluation form
1. Constitution of the International Society of Drug Bulletins. Available at:
© WHO 2013
Last updated: May 3, 2013