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MHRA leads social media drug safety initiative

Published on 08/09/14 at 08:17am
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The MHRA has announced that it is to lead European medicines regulators, academics and pharma in a three-year project to develop new ways of gathering drug safety information.

Known as ‘WEB-RADR’, the project is in response to the rise in the use of smartphones, apps, and social media for discussing issues with medicines and health, says the MHRA. 

It will work to develop a mobile app for healthcare professionals and the public to report suspected adverse drug reactions (or ADRs) to national EU regulators. It will also investigate the potential for publicly available social media data for identifying potential drug safety issues.

All social media data used within the project will be anonymised where necessary to protect data privacy, the MHRA adds. In addition to reporting suspected ADRs the app could also serve as a platform to send timely and up-to-date medicines information to patients, doctors and caregivers.

WEB-RADR will also examine the value of these new tools for monitoring drug safety and aims to develop recommendations for medicines regulators and the pharma industry internationally – on how these should be used alongside existing systems.

This project is funded though the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European pharma lobby group EFPIA.

Mick Foy, group manager in the MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division, says: “The growing use of smartphones and tablets by patients and healthcare professionals creates a need for reporting forms to be provided on these platforms to ensure regulators receive ADR reports that are easy to access and complete.

“Additionally, the recent growth of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and the many specialist sites and blogs has given rise to many people sharing their medical experiences publicly on the internet.

“Such data sharing, if properly harnessed, could provide an extremely valuable source of information the monitoring the safety of medicines after they have been licensed.

“WEB-RADR will deliver recommendations for international drug safety monitoring as to how these resources should be used ethically and scientifically.”

Ben Adams 

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