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Improved Statistical Signal Detection in Pharmacovigilance by Combining Multiple Strength-of-Evidence Aspects in vigiRank
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences. Uppsala Monitoring Centre, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2259-1716
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics. Uppsala Monitoring Centre, Sweden.
2014 (English)In: Drug Safety, ISSN 0114-5916, E-ISSN 1179-1942, Vol. 37, no 8, 617-628 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Detection of unknown risks with marketed medicines is key to securing the optimal care of individual patients and to reducing the societal burden from adverse drug reactions. Large collections of individual case reports remain the primary source of information and require effective analytics to guide clinical assessors towards likely drug safety signals. Disproportionality analysis is based solely on aggregate numbers of reports and naively disregards report quality and content. However, these latter features are the very fundament of the ensuing clinical assessment.


Our objective was to develop and evaluate a data-driven screening algorithm for emerging drug safety signals that accounts for report quality and content.


vigiRank is a predictive model for emerging safety signals, here implemented with shrinkage logistic regression to identify predictive variables and estimate their respective contributions. The variables considered for inclusion capture different aspects of strength of evidence, including quality and clinical content of individual reports, as well as trends in time and geographic spread. A reference set of 264 positive controls (historical safety signals from 2003 to 2007) and 5,280 negative controls (pairs of drugs and adverse events not listed in the Summary of Product Characteristics of that drug in 2012) was used for model fitting and evaluation; the latter used fivefold cross-validation to protect against over-fitting. All analyses were performed on a reconstructed version of VigiBase® as of 31 December 2004, at around which time most safety signals in our reference set were emerging.


The following aspects of strength of evidence were selected for inclusion into vigiRank: the numbers of informative and recent reports, respectively; disproportional reporting; the number of reports with free-text descriptions of the case; and the geographic spread of reporting. vigiRank offered a statistically significant improvement in area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC) over screening based on the Information Component (IC) and raw numbers of reports, respectively (0.775 vs. 0.736 and 0.707, cross-validated).


Accounting for multiple aspects of strength of evidence has clear conceptual and empirical advantages over disproportionality analysis. vigiRank is a first-of-its-kind predictive model to factor in report quality and content in first-pass screening to better meet tomorrow’s post-marketing drug safety surveillance needs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 37, no 8, 617-628 p.
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107387DOI: 10.1007/s40264-014-0204-5ISI: 000344614700006OAI: diva2:746756
Available from: 2014-09-15 Created: 2014-09-15 Last updated: 2014-12-16Bibliographically approved

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Caster, OlaNorén, G. Niklas
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