International group redoubles efforts to improve detection of drug side effects

The International Working Group (IWG) on New Developments in Pharmacovigilance has resumed its work in earnest, following an extended break due to the pandemic. Members of the IWG marked the occasion by coming together for the first time since the pandemic caused a sharp reduction in its activities.

The IWG brings together over 65 experts from across the world to identify areas where contributions can be made to advance methods used in pharmacovigilance and pharmacoepidemiology to protect patients from the hazards of medicines and facilitate the safe and effective use of medicines and vaccines. Members are drawn from a range of pharmaceutical companies, academia, and medicines regulators, including Lilly, Novartis, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, the MHRA, the FDA, Harvard University, University of Portsmouth, University of Southern Denmark, and Oslo Metropolitan University.

Drug safety (pharmacovigilance) research organisations and pharmaceutical companies were very busy during the pandemic, developing new anti-Covid medicines and vaccines and repurposing existing drugs, as well as checking these products for side effects. With the pressure to find and test new medical products as quickly as possible, new streamlined processes were established. The time is right to build on these developments during the pandemic and to explore further new methods.
The IWG aims to recommend research, in addition to publishing guidance, reports, papers, and submitting abstracts to scientific conferences.

Professor Saad Shakir, Director of DSRU and chair of the newly formed International Working Group, said: “Significant progress has been made in the field of pharmacovigilance over the last 20 years, for example, in the areas of formal risk/benefit evaluation and signal detection. However, issues remain to be addressed. Some of these are associated with preventable mortality and serious morbidity.”
At the recent meeting, members of the IWG selected the first two topics to be taken forward and work on each topic begins imminently.

The group is an open scientific forum and welcomes contributions from people who can enhance the work of the IWG. For further information please contact dawn.cooper@dsru.org.