What is Pharmacovigilance?

Pharmacovigilance is defined by the World Health Organization as “the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other drug-related problem”. In simpler terms, pharmacovigilance can be defined modestly in two words, drug safety. The study of drugs and their associated risks and effects does not simply end after lengthy studies and clinical trials.  Long after their development phase it is important that their ongoing effects and interactions with consumers continue to be monitored.

What is the importance of Pharmacovigilance and what are its effects?

A necessary step for not only prescription drugs but those less heavily regulated like OTC drugs, pharmacovigilance helps to monitor the safety of these products after consumer consumption. Recently, it has been seen that the FDA is choosing to crackdown on the safety of certain medications.  It was reported by USA Today that the FDA had begun an intensive investigation into certain blood pressure medicines with suspicions of contamination by cancer-causing impurities. These further investigations are essential to ensure the safety of consumers. With recall of medications that exhibit serious side effects or signs of contamination, the health and safety of consumers can be protected.

What is the Importance of Adverse Reaction Reporting to Pharmacovigilance?

A key aspect of pharmacovigilance is adverse drug reaction reporting. A strong determining factor in the longevity of products in market place, the reporting of these reactions is pertinent to maintaining consumer health. Without adverse reaction reporting, products that are otherwise unsafe for consumers may slip through the cracks and be left accessible to more consumers. No truer example of its importance, the 1960s thalidomide disaster that resulted in severe birth defects is a prime example of the importance of pharmacovigilance. Originally prescribed to treat morning sickness in pregnant women, this drug was seemingly harmless. Without a proper recall of this dangerous drug more and more unsuspecting expecting mothers, would have been susceptible to traumatic effects of this drug. In fact, it was this disaster that further spurred Health Canada to more tightly regulate and monitor prescription drugs and their release into marketplace. Proper regulation before and after market of drug products can ensure that disasters like this one do not occur.

For more information, please contact Focal Point Research Inc.  We are leading North American Regulatory and New Product Consultants for Medical DevicesNatural Health ProductsOTC DrugsCosmetics, and other consumer products regulated by Health Canada and the U.S. FDA.