FDA final rule on safety info, but still no word on social media

Fda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FDA issues final rule on safety information during clinical trials

This is an interesting announcement and reveals to me the fact that the FDA is coming to grips with the fact that the current process for reporting adverse events needs an overhaul including refining what qualifies as an AE and how they are reported. I believe the landscape for AE reporting is about to change dramatically owing to another trend which is quite outside the FDA’s control, namely social media. A number of articles show that due to the growth of online medical communities and web 2.0 means of sharing science and medical knowledge, the idea of capturing AEs via phone call or other report to a drug company from an HCP is becoming increasingly obsolete. Reportable adverse events are far less common than most people suspect. As of 2009 there were only approximately 166 reportable adverse events per day recorded across the entire pharma industry. Increasingly pharma companies are examining how (and to what extent) they will be required to capture and monitor AEs in online discussions occurring on their brands. The amount of content to monitor is potentially staggering and yet algorithms are being developed that will automate this to some extent. This has the potential to be much more useful than simply tracking isolated AE incidents for the FDA since it will allow both regulators and industry to gain much more sophisticated intelligence on the experience of mass numbers of customers with the products.


2 thoughts on “FDA final rule on safety info, but still no word on social media

  1. You’re right — it’s unfortunate that we seem to be wedded to relatively obsolete technologies (obsolete, at least, within the contest of AE reporting.) Of course there are challenges involved, but I’m not sure that it’s the amount of data that will pose the biggest problems. AE reporting within this context tends to be vague and difficult to verify. Determining the quality of the data and distilling it into a readily usable format will pose significant, though not insuperable, challenges — and should attract the most serious developmental efforts.

  2. That’s a good point. Compared to most other industries where data mining has reached a level of sophistication, adverse event capture and analysis still appears to have a great deal of room for improvement. But when we think about the overall costs of our healthcare system, relative to outcomes, it appears to be an area that would be worthy of investment.

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