Unlocking the Potential of Social Media in Drug Safety

Journal for Clinical Studies
June 2105
Supriya Desai, Sciformix Corporation

Drug safety and pharmacovigilance (PV) have evolved and grown significantly more complex over the past decade due to higher data volumes, evolving regulations, increased influence of emerging markets and the emergence of social media and innovative technological advances. The phenomenal reach of the internet has led to a revolutionary shift in how people are communicating with one another, with digital platforms and applications quickly becoming the go-to form of communication in the era of Web 2.0.

However, unlike other areas such as clinical medicine, the use of the internet and social media has progressed slower in product safety and PV. This presents the biopharmaceutical industry with exciting opportunities, and challenges, for the appropriate and effective use of social media for the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects and other drug-related issues. Within the last decade, social platforms have become powerful sources for news updates, viral marketing, online networking and entertainment, and hold the promise to drive consequential and valuable changes in PV.

Social media presents new channels and methods for companies to move away from traditional PV systems and safety reporting methods towards more patient-centric models for reporting, analysing and monitoring of safety data. These channels have the capability to allow swift and open communication between drug companies and their consumers, patients and healthcare providers, thereby helping foster transparency and build public trust. With this said, careful evaluation and assessment of employing social media as a PV tool needs to be conducted; in terms of its meaningfulness and impact on outcomes, validity of the use of data obtained via social media channels, adherence to regulations and laws and overall cost-benefit analysis.

This article examines how the influence and reach of the internet and social media can be harnessed to drive valuable outcomes for the PV industry. It details the industry’s current state and future considerations for use of social media in PV, possible areas of influence, expected challenges, potential solutions and next steps.

Read the full article.