IMI Call for Social Media Detection of Adverse Events
The EU’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is aiming to revolutionize pharmacovigilance by funding the development of a framework for detecting adverse events (AEs) mentioned on social media.
The IMI is a public-private healthcare partnership between the EU and members of the European pharma association EFPIA, and the ‘Web Adverse Events’ (WEBAE) project is part of the partnership’s ninth call for proposals. The IMI is aiming to fund a consortium made up of biotechnology companies, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), regulators, payers, academics, and non-profit organizations (such as patient advocacy groups); the consortium will be expected to “develop a technical and policy framework for mining publically available (and licensed) web and social media content” to identify AEs.
Although there are classical reporting platforms for AEs, the IMI acknowledges that many AEs go unreported as patients either do not have access to an AE report form or are unaware of the reporting process. The IMI cites recent “highly disruptive and interrelated changes in the consumer technology market” which have led to “many people sharing their medical experiences publically on the internet.” It believes that the patient data on AEs available through social media could provide an “extremely valuable source of medical insight” especially in terms of pharmacovigilance, while accepting that there are still problems that need to be overcome, such as the difficulty of assessing whether an AE reported on social media is genuine.
As well as helping to identify safety and quality issues early on, the development of social media mining tools will have many other benefits according to the IMI, including the recognition of emerging side-effects (both good and bad) in patient populations; understanding potential drug-drug and drug-food reactions; and gathering opinions about drug companies for marketing purposes.
In addition to calling for the development of a framework for processing social media AE reports, the IMI also called for the consortium to develop a mobile platform that could be used by patients to report AEs, as well as providing them with updated information on drug side-effects and other information. A well-designed mobile application would be able to “serve as an information resource for both healthcare professionals, and, especially, patients and carers.” Furthermore, the data gathered by such an application could be used to map the reporting of AEs country by country, helping pharmacoepidemiologic research.
Alongside the WEBAE project, the IMI’s ninth call for proposals focused on age-related conditions and advances in antibiotics, with a total of 135 million euros in funding on offer. Out of this budget, 4.56 million euros has been committed to the WEBAE project, of which 2.27 million euros come from the EU and 2.29 million euros come from the EFPIA.
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