The Geneesmiddelenbulletin was first published in 1967 under the auspices of the Directorate of Public Health at the former Ministry of Social Affairs and Public Health. At that time the dynamic developments in the field of pharmacotherapy and the lack of objective sources of information suggested there was a need among prescribers for independent information on pharmaceutical products. The American Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics (1959) and the British Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (1962) were used as models for the new journal. Originally the Geneesmiddelenbulletin contained many articles translated from these English-language sister publications, but demand grew for articles more specifically relevant to the situation in the Netherlands. Obviously, recommendations for the use of antibiotics in the United States, for example, are not automatically applicable in the Netherlands.
In 1988 the Geneesmiddelenbulletin was for some time under threat of closure. This was not due to any criticism of the quality of the bulletin, but rather a consequence of cost-cutting operations by the government. Concerted action by many of those involved with the bulletin prevented its demise. The bulletin was privatised in 1990, and published by the independent Geneesmiddelenbulletin Foundation, and as reported in Gebu 1999; 33: 1-4, ‘…its continued existence is nowadays fully secured’.
Nevertheless, the existence of the Geneesmiddelenbulletin came once more under threat in 2003, when the then Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport announced the intention to reduce its subsidy by 90%. Massive support from doctors and pharmacists in the form of numerous e-mails, faxes, and letters managed to convince the Minister that this would have highly undesirable consequences. In the end, the journal’s subsidy was cut by only 10%, under the condition that the journal would be accommodated within a larger organisation, the National Health Insurance Council (CVZ). The expected advantages of the cooperation with CVZ, however, failed to materialise. In particular, it turned out to be difficult to combine the journal’s editorial independence with the CVZ’s desire for control over all statements made under its responsibility. This problem was brought to a head when court cases were initiated by pharmaceutical companies. The two parties then amicably decided to end their collaboration, and the Geneesmiddelenbulletin started a technical collaboration with the Medisch Contact journal. A new Geneesmiddelenbulletin Foundation was established. During the transitional period, in 2009, the Ministry made an attempt to limit the journal’s aim to that of a newsletter on treatment guidelines. This suggestion also met with fierce resistance, however, and the Dutch Parliament voted against the plan, so this third threat to the identity and continued existence of the Geneesmiddelenbulletin was also averted. In 2016, the Minister told Parliament that the Ministry will continue to be the journal’s main sponsor.       
Meanwhile, the Ministry did impose some additional conditions. Ge-Bu was now expected to discuss not only drugs but also medical devices. In addition, the Ministry expressed the wish that the journal, which had always appeared in printed form only, would be converted into a fully-fledged web-based journal with options for on-line communication and interaction with other Dutch organisations and institutions concerned with information about drugs. To facilitate communication, the management decided to adopt the acronym ‘Ge-Bu’ as the name of the journal, rather than the full name ‘Geneesmiddelenbulletin’.
The transition from the printed version to the website as Ge-Bu’s primary medium took place in 2017, although the paper version continues to exist (https://www.ge-bu.nl/artikel/papieren-editie-en-digitalisering-van-het-geneesmiddelenbulletin-stand-van-zaken and https://www.ge-bu.nl/artikel/papier-en-digitaal).