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Establishing a Framework for the Use of Social Media in Pharmacovigilance in Europe

Sabine Brosch, Anne-Marie de Ferran, Victoria Newbould, Diane Farkas, Marina Lengsavath, Phil Tregunno
Drug Safety: An International Journal of Medical Toxicology and Drug Experience 2019 March 30
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) WEB-RADR (Web-Recognising Adverse Drug Reactions) project looked at opportunities and challenges in using social media in pharmacovigilance as a rapidly evolving source of large, real-time data, which could provide new information on the actual use of medicines and potential safety issues. Two of the objectives were to develop principles for continuous monitoring of the safety of medicines without overburdening established pharmacovigilance systems and to propose a regulatory framework on the use of social media in pharmacovigilance. As a starting point, a review of existing legal requirements and regulatory guidance on social media use in pharmacovigilance was performed based on a survey conducted in 2014-2015. Furthermore, input from two large stakeholder workshops and evidence gathered from the research performed by WEB-RADR on the analysis of social media data were taken into consideration. Whilst analytical results of WEB-RADR indicated limited value of social media in detecting or confirming signals for a majority of the drugs studied, it is important to establish a regulatory framework for the use of social media in pharmacovigilance. Thus, the screening and reporting of suspected adverse reactions remains an important pillar in monitoring the safety and efficacy of medicines and the identification of new safety issues. Principles as to how social media can be used in pharmacovigilance are absolutely needed to provide clarity to patients, healthcare professionals, medicines regulators and the pharmaceutical industry.


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