Long-term sustainability is necessary for any bulletin. Ability to generate revenue for the services provided helps to assure long-term survival. Some bulletins charge higher subscription rates to international organizations or institutions in general. This helps to subsidise local distribution to individuals at a reduced rate or at no charge. Chapter 10 describes strategies to finance distribution and the use of differential subscription fees.
“Economic sustainability and impact assessment have been, and will be, a challenge. Publications like this - that do not accept any advertisements and keep a critical eye on the pharmaceutical industry and its backdoor relationship with the Ministry of Health - always
have economic problems. Presently though, we do have funding for 3 years, but beyond that, we see a struggle again.”
Zaeem-ul-Haq, TheNetwork’s Drug Bulletin, Pakistan [http://www.thenetwork.org.pk].
In the long run, much depends on the quality of the work and the ability to establish the bulletin’s usefulness to its audience as well as to funders. An established bulletin with credibility is likely to receive continued financial commitment and achieve sustainability. Satisfied users are also likely to continue subscribing to a bulletin and to recommend it to other potential users. Some bulletins involve subscribers in promoting the bulletin’s usefulness.
It is important to formulate objectives for the bulletin (see Boxes 5.2 and 5.3 for examples of these), to establish your own style from the beginning, and to strive for continuity. Publishing timely overviews on specific issues of local importance, organizing seminars on certain themes, and creating annual awards are other ways of increasing the influence of the bulletin and its long-term survival.
Box 5.2 Objectives of The Network’s Drug Bulletin, Pakistan
• To provide independent drug information to doctors.
• To make health professionals aware of the latest therapeutics and research.
• To cover news items on international measures to ban or withdraw unsafe drugs.
• To voice consumers’ concerns.
• To promote rational use of drugs and the essential drugs concept.
Box 5.3 Mission statement and aims of Australian Prescriber
To promote the quality use of medicines by providing independent, reliable, readily accessible information about drugs and therapeutics.
Australian Prescriber is an independent review of therapeutics. It aims to provide short, direct and didactic reviews on a range of topics which will assist the readers in their professional duties.
It is also wise to avoid too much dependence on any single source of funding. Then even if one source of support dries up the bulletin is likely to survive.