Research Reveals Where and How Adverse Drug Reactions are Likely to be Found Online

Research by Creation Healthcare presented for the first time at DigiPharm Europe 2010 Conference in London on 28 September reveals new insights into adverse drug reactions mentioned on the world wide web. Whilst previous industry studies in this field have assumed a fixed ratio of reportable adverse drug reactions (or adverse events) likely to be found in social media monitoring activities by pharmaceutical companies, Creation Healthcare’s research indicates sharp differences between the ratio of ‘potentially reportable’ adverse events found amongst mentions of individual brands, active ingredients and therapy areas.

In a study period during July 2010, Creation Healthcare found that potentially reportable adverse events relating to Arthritis were to be found in 42% of online mentions associated with the therapy area, whilst in the Gastrointestinal therapy area just 14% of online mentions included a potentially reportable adverse event.

As a basis for counting ‘potentially reportable’ adverse events, Creation Healthcare’s research methodoolgy considered whether any mention of a brand, active ingredient and/or therapy area met the criteria stipulated by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the United Kingdom’s trade association for the pharmaceutical industry, in its Guidelines for Collecting Adverse Events and Product Quality Complaints from Market Research programmes. The ABPI criteria states that “The minimum information required for collecting and forwarding the Adverse Event / Product Complaint to the pharmaceutical company is the name of the drug concerned and the Adverse Event / Product Complaint experienced”.

Whilst stricter than the regulatory requirements anywhere in the world, this standard provided a practical benchmark to ensure that the research identified any possible reportable adverse events which might have been encountered in a pharmaceutical company’s digital engagement strategy. Further subcategorisation identified those mentions which were conversational in tone, indicating an individual patient experience.

Creation Healthcare conceived the research in partnership with DigiPharm Europe 2010 Conference, after feedback from previous delegates earlier in the year indicated that regulation is perceived as pharmaceutical industry’s biggest challenge when it comes to digital marketing and communications.

The groundbreaking research was designed to develop global strategy insights that will inform pharmaceutical marketing, communications and pharmacovigilence professionals. Led by Creation Healthcare’s Head of Strategy Implementation, Paul Grant, the research team included Creation Healthcare consultants based in seven countries in the Northern and Southern hemispheres and in established and emerging pharmaceutical markets.

By analysing online mentions of pharmaceutical brands and active ingredients relating to ten key therapy areas worldwide, the team was able to identify variations by country, therapeutic area, brand, and individual digital platform (such as Facebook, Twitter, or blogs) in the likelihood of a pharmaceutical professional encountering a potentially reportable adverse event.

The full research is [intlink id=”reportable-adverse-events-research” type=”post”]now available as a special 75-page Research & Insights Report[/intlink], detailing the methodology, identifying insights from the data, and outlining strategic implications for pharmaceutical companies.

“If you are developing a healthcare engagement strategy and you want to plan effectively for using digital channels, it helps to have an idea of where you are likely to find the highest ratio of adverse events”, says Paul Grant. “The Research & Insights Report not only reveals adverse event ‘hot spots’ by channel and region for particular therapy areas; it also provides strategic recommendations that will help pharmaceutical marketing, communications and pharmacovigilence professionals to work together more effectively to achieve business goals.”

Therapy areas covered by the research include Anaemia, Arthritis, Asthma, Breast Cancer, Cardiovascular, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Gastrointestinal, Mental Health, Osteoporosis and Type II Diabetes. Included in the Report is what is likely to be the most comprehensive published analysis of social media brand mentions worldwide in cardiovascular medicine that exists to date.

Pharmaceutical professionals are invited to [intlink id=”reportable-adverse-events-research” type=”post”]purchase a copy of Creation Healthcare’s special 75-page Research & Insights Report here[/intlink] or by contacting daniel.ghinn@creationhealthcare.com or calling +44 (0)207 849 3167.


Creation Healthcare is a worldwide healthcare engagement strategy consultancy based in London and Tokyo, with specialist consultants in fifteen countries providing local insights to inform global strategies. The consultancy has worked with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations since the late 1990’s.

Daniel Ghinn

Daniel Ghinn is Editor of Healthcare Engagement Strategy and CEO of Creation Healthcare, the online market research consultancy for healthcare. He is a prolific writer and speaker on emerging trends healthcare engagement in the digital age.