A drug bulletin can succeed only if it serves a real need and if it is planned with the target audience in mind. You probably think a drug bulletin is needed, but do your colleagues agree? There are already many sources of drug information. In some countries people complain about an “information overload”, even though comparative information is not so abundant. How will your bulletin succeed against competing information? In other countries people lack information. How will your bulletin reach the people who need it?
The key to success is to involve the readers of the bulletin as much as possible. Nobody knows better what they want than they do. A bulletin that subscribers have to pay for will only succeed if it gives them something that they want and value. However, they may not realise that they lack a source of objective information until that source is actually available. When a bulletin is funded publicly, the funding body will want to be satisfied that the recipients appreciate it. You should spend time researching the market before you launch a new bulletin (see Box 4.1). Established bulletins also need to listen to their readers (through readers’ mail, surveys and research) to keep them up to date with what their readers want.
Box 4.1 Finding out whether a bulletin is needed: questions that might be included in a survey of potential readers
1. What is your job?
2. Do you give advice about, or prescribe, or dispense medicines?
3. If you need information about a medicine, where do you look for it?
4. What sort of information about a medicine do you frequently look for? e.g. dosage, adverse effects, interactions, how to store the medicine, information for the patient.
5. In the past year, have you had difficulty getting information that you needed?
6. What sort of information on medicines do you have most difficulty in obtaining?
7. How do you get information about a new medicine?
8. How do you find out what is the current best treatment for a medical problem?
9. Can you currently get independent, unbiased information on medicines? If yes, do you get it from international sources or from national ones adapted to the local situation?
10. Do you need additional independent, unbiased information? If yes,
• in what form (i.e. bulletin, web site, telephone information service etc.)?
• who should provide it?
• would you pay for it?