Compiled by-Shamon Ahmad, M.Pharma (Q.A) Chandigarh Group of Colleges, Landran, Mohali(Punjab
India)firstname.lastname@example.org on Date-25/12/2012
“PHARMACOVIGILANCE” is derived from Greek “pharmakon” = drug
Latin “vigilare” = to be awake or alert, to keep watch.
Pharmacovigilance (abbreviated PV or PhV), also known as Drug Safety, is
the pharmacological science relating to the collection, detection, assessment, monitoring, and
prevention of adverse effects with pharmaceutical products.
GOOD PHARMACOVIGILANCE PRACTICE (GPVP)
Pharmacovigilance is the science of collecting, monitoring, researching, assessing and
evaluating information from healthcare providers and patients on the adverse effects of
medicines, biological products, herbals and traditional medicines with a view to:
•Identifying information about potential new hazards
•Preventing harm to patients.
Pharmacovigilance heavily focuses on adverse drug reactions, or ADRs, which are defined
as any response to a drug which is noxious and un-intended, including lack of efficacy, which
occurs at doses normally used for the prophylaxis, diagnosis or therapy of disease, or for the
modification of physiological function. Medication errors such as overdose, and misuse and
abuse of a drug, are also of interest because they may result in an ADR.
Information received from patients and healthcare providers, as well as other sources such as
the medical literature, plays a critical role in providing the data necessary for
pharmacovigilance to take place. In fact, in order to market or to test a pharmaceutical
product in most countries, adverse event data received by the license holder (usually a
pharmaceutical company) must be submitted to the local drug regulatory authority. (See
Adverse Event Reporting below.)
Ultimately, pharmacovigilance is concerned with identifying the hazards associated with
pharmaceutical products and with minimising the risk of any harm that may come to patients.
TERMS COMMONLY USED IN DRUG SAFETY:
Pharmacovigilance has its own unique terminology that is important to understand. Most of
the following terms are used within this article and are peculiar to drug safety, although some
are used by other disciplines within the pharmaceutical sciences as well.
Adverse drug reaction (ADR) is a side effect occurring with a drug where a positive
causal relationship between the event and the drug is thought(soch), or has been proven,
• Adverse event (AE) is a side effect occurring with a drug. By definition, the causal
relationship between the AE and the drug is unknown.
• Benefits are commonly expressed as the proven therapeutic good of a product but should
also include the patient’s subjective assessment of its effects.
• Causal relationship is said to exist when a drug is thought to have caused or contributed
to the occurrence of an adverse drug reaction.
• Clinical trial (or study) refers to an organised program to determine the safety and/or
efficacy of a drug (or drugs) in patients. The design of a clinical trial will depend on the
drug and the phase of its development.
• Control group is a group of individual patients that is used as a standard of comparison
within a clinical trial. The control group may be taking a placebo (where no active drug is
given) or where a different active drug is given as a comparator.
Dechallenge and Rechallenge refer to a drug being stopped and restarted in a patient,
respectively. A positive dechallenge has occurred, for example, when an adverse event abates
or resolves completely following the drug's discontinuation. A positive rechallenge has
occurred when the adverse event re-occurs after the drug is restarted. Dechallenge and
rechallenge play an important role in determining whether a causal relationship between an
event and a drug exists.
• Effectiveness is the extent to which a drug works under real world circumstances, i.e.,
• Efficacy is the extent to which a drug works under ideal circumstances, i.e., in clinical
• Event refers an adverse event.
• Harm is the nature and extent of the actual damage that could be caused.
• Implied causality refers to spontaneously-reported AE cases where the causality is always
presumed to be positive unless the reporter states otherwise.
• Individual Case Study Report (ICSR) is an adverse event report for an individual patient.
• Life-threatening refers to an adverse event that places a patient at the immediate risk of
• Phase refers to the four phases of development: I - small safety trials early on in a drug's
development; II - medium-sized trials for both safety and efficacy; III - large trials, which
includes key (or so-called "pivotal") trials; IV - large, post-marketing trials, typically for
safety reasons. There are also intermediate phases designated by an "a" or "b", e.g. Phase
• Risk is the probability of harm being caused, usually expressed as a percent or ratio of the
• Risk factor is an attribute of a patient that may predispose, or increase the risk, of that
patient developing an event that may or may not be drug-related. For instance, obesity is
considered a risk factor for a number of different diseases and, potentially, ADRs.
• Signal is a new safety finding within safety data that requires further investigation. There
are three categories of signals: confirmed signals where the data indicate that there is a
causal relationship between the drug and the AE; refuted (or false) signals where after
investigation the data indicate that no causal relationship exists; and unconfirmed
signals which require further investigation (more data) such as the conducting of a
postmarketing trial to study the issue.
Temporal relationship is said to exist when an adverse event occurs when a patient is
taking a given drug. Although a temporal relationship is absolutely necessary in order to
establish a causal relationship between the drug and the AE, a temporal relationship does
not necessarily in and of itself prove that the event was caused by the drug.
Triage refers to the process of placing a potential adverse event report into one of three
categories: 1) non-serious case; 2) serious case; or 3) no case (minimum criteria for an
AE case are not fulfilled)
Adverse Event Reporting
The activity that is most commonly associated with Pharmacovigilance, and which consumes
a significant amount of resources for drug regulatory authorities (or similar government
agencies) and drug safety departments in pharmaceutical companies, is that of adverse event
reporting. Adverse event (AE) reporting involves the receipt, triage, data entering,
assessment, distribution, reporting (if appropriate), and archiving of AE data and
The source of AE reports may include: spontaneous reports from healthcare professionals or
patients (or other intermediaries); solicited reports from patient support programs; reports
from clinical or postmarketing studies; reports from literature sources; reports from the media
(including social media and websites); and reports reported to drug regulatory authorities
themselves. For pharmaceutical companies, AE reporting is a regulatory requirement in most
countries. AE reporting also provides data to these companies and drug regulatory authorities
that play a key role in assessing the risk-benefit profile of a given drug. The following are
several facets of AE reporting
The "4 Elements" of an AE case
One of the fundamental principles of adverse event reporting is the determination of what
constitutes an adverse event case. During the triage phase of a potential adverse event report,
the triager must determine if the "four elements" of an AE case are present:
an identifiable patient
an identifiable reporter
a suspect drug
an adverse event
If one or more of these four elements is missing, the case is not a valid AE report. Although
there are no exceptions to this rule there may be circumstances that may require a judgment
call. For example, the term "identifiable" may not always be clear-cut. If a physician reports
that he/she has a patient X taking drug Y who experienced Z (an AE), but refuses to provide
any specifics about patient X, the report is still a valid case even though the patient is not
specifically identified. This is because the reporter has first-hand information about the
patient and is identifiable (i.e. a real person) to the physician. Identifiability is important so as
not only to prevent duplicate reporting of the same case, but also to permit follow-up for
Coding of Adverse Events
Adverse events is the process by which information from an AE reporter, called the
"verbatim", is coded using standardized terminology from a medical coding dictionary, such
as MedDRA (the most commonly used medical coding ditionary). The purpose of medical
coding is to convert adverse event information into terminology that can be readily identified
and analyzed. For instance, Patient 1 may report that they had experienced "a very bad
headache that felt like their head was being hit by a hammer" [Verbatim 1] when taking Drug
X. Or, Patient 2 may report that they had experienced a "slight, throbbing headache that
occurred daily at about two in the afternoon" [Verbatim 2] while taking Drug Y. Neither
Verbatim 1 nor Verbatim 2 will exactly match a code in the MedDRA coding dictionary.
However, both quotes describe different manifestations of a headache. As a result, in this
example both quotes would be coded as PT Headache (PT = Preferred Term in MedDRA).
Although somewhat intuitive, there are a set of criteria within Pharmacovigilance that are
used to distinguish a serious adverse event from a non-serious one. An adverse event is
considered serious if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
1. results in death;
2. is life-threatening;
3. requires inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization (outpatient treatment would not necessarily be serious);
4. results in persistent or significant disability or incapacity;
5. results in a congenital abnromalty (birth defect); or is
6. "medically significant" - does not meet any of the preceding criteria, but is considered
serious because treatment or intervention would be required to prevent one of the
Clinical Trial Reporting
Also known as SAE (Serious Adverse Event) Reporting from clinical trials, safety
information from clinical studies is used to establish a drug's safety profile in humans and is a
key component that drug regulatory authorities consider in the decision-making as to whether
to grant or deny market authorization (market approval) for a drug. SAE reporting occurs as a
result of study patients (subjects) who experience serious adverse events during the
conducting of clinical trials. (Non-serious adverse events are also captured separately.)
Spontaneous reporting is the core data-generating system of international
pharmacovigilance, relying on healthcare professionals (and in some countries consumers) to
identify and report any adverse events to their national pharmacovigilance center, health
authority (such as EMA or FDA), or to the drug manufacturer itself. Spontaneous reports
are, by definition, submitted voluntarily although under certain circumstances these reports
may be encouraged, or "stimulated", by media reports or articles published in medical or
scientific publications, or by product lawsuits. In many parts of the world adverse event
reports are submitted electronically using a defined message standard.
As such, spontaneous reports are a crucial element in the worldwide enterprise of
pharmacovigilance and form the core of the World Health Organization Database, which
includes around 4.6 million reports (January 2009), growing annually by about 250,000
Signal detection (SD) involves data mining of PV databases. These databases may be owned
by a pharmaceutical company, a drug regulatory authority, or a large healthcare provider. The
WHO defines a safety signal as: “Reported information on a possible causal relationship
between an adverse event and a drug, the relationship being unknown or incompletely
documented previously”. Usually more than a single report is required to generate a signal,
depending upon the event and quality of the information available.
Risk Management Plans
A Risk Management Plan (RMP) is a document that describes the risks (adverse drug
reactions and potential adverse reactions) associated with the use of a drug. The overall goal
of an RMP is to assure a positive risk-benefit profile once the drug marketed. The document
is required to be submitted, in a specified format, with all new market authorisation requests
within the European Union. Although not necessarily required, RMPs may also be submitted
in countries outside the EU. The risks described in an RMP fall into one of three categories:
Identified Risks, Potential Risks, and Unknown Risks. Also described within an RMP are the
measures that the Market Authorisation Holder, usually a pharmaceutical company, will
undertake to minimise the risks associated with the use of the drug. These measures are
usually focused on the product's labeling and healthcare professionals
International collaboration in Pharmacovigilance
Several organisations play a key collaborative role in the global oversight of
The Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS), through its
Working Groups, is a globally-oriented think tank that provides guidance on drug safety
related topics. CIOMS is part of WHO and prepares reports are used as a reference for
developing future drug regulatory policy and procedures. Over the years, many of CIOMS'
proposed policies have been adopted. Examples of topics these reports have covered include:
Current Challenges in Pharmacovigilance: Pragmatic Approaches (CIOMS V); Management
of Safety Information from Clinical Trials (CIOMS VI); the Development Safety Update
Report (DSUR): Harmonizing the Format and Content for Periodic Safety Reporting During
Clinical Trials (CIOMS VII); and Practical Aspects of Signal Detection in
Pharmacovigilance: Report of CIOMS Working Group (CIOMS VIII).
THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON HARMONISATION( ICH):
The goal of ICH is to recommend global standards to be followed by drug companies and
drug regulatory authorities around the world. The ICH (the International Conference on
Harmonisation) is a global organisation with members from the European Union, the United
States and Japan. The ICH Steering Committee (SC) is the governing body that oversees the
harmonisation activities. Since its establishment in 1990, each of its six co-sponsors—the
European Union (EU), the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and
Associations (EFPIA), the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW, Japan), the
Japanese Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA), the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
(PhRMA)—has had two seats on the SC. Other parties have a significant interest in ICH and
have been invited to nominate Observers to the SC. The three Observers are the World Health
Organization (WHO), Health Canada and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The
International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA) participates
as a non-voting member of the SC.
The principle of international collaboration in the field of pharmacovigilance is the principal
basis for the WHO International Drug Monitoring Programme, through which over 100
member nations have systems in place that encourage healthcare personnel to record and
report adverse effects of drugs in their patients. These reports are assessed locally and may
lead to action within the country. Through membership of the WHO Programme one country
can know if similar reports are being made elsewhere. Member countries send their reports to
the Uppsala Monitoring Centre where they are processed, evaluated and entered into
the WHO International Database. When there are several reports of adverse reactions to a
particular drug, this process may lead to the detection of a signal – an alert about a possible
hazard communicated to members countries. This happens only after detailed evaluation and
National and Regional Drug Regulatory Authorities
Drug regulatory authorities also play a key role in the national or regional oversight of
In Canada, pharmocovigilance is regulated by the Marketed Health Products Directorate of
the Health Products and Food Branch (Health Canada).
In Egypt, Pharmacovigilance is regulated by the Egyptian Pharmacovigilance Center of the
Egyptian Ministry of Health.
The pharmacovigilance effort in the European Union is coordinated by the European
Medicines Agency (EMA) and conducted by the national competent authorities (NCAs). The
main responsibility of the EMA is to maintain and develop the pharmacovigilance database
consisting of all suspected serious adverse reactions to medicines observed in the European
Community. The system is called EudraVigilance and contains separate but similar databases
of human and veterinary reactions. EMA requires the individual marketing authorisation
holders (drug companies), to submit all received adverse reactions in electronic form (save in
exceptional circumstances). The reporting obligations of the various stakeholders are defined
in the Community legislation, namely Regulation (EC) No 726/2004, and for human
medicines,European Union Directive 2001/83/EC as amended and Directive 2001/20/EC. In
2002 Heads of Medicines Agencies agreed on a mandate for an ad hoc Working Group on
establishing a European risk management strategy. The Working Group considered the
conduct of a high level survey of EU pharmacovigilance resources to promote the utilisation
of expertise and encourage collaborative working.
National Pharmacovigilance protocol, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government
of India, is the pharmacovigilance regulatory authority in India.
In Japan, pharmacovigilance is regulated by the PMDA and MHLW.
See also: Regulation of therapeutic goods in the United States
In the U.S., the drug industry is regulated by the FDA, which is the largest national drug
regulatory authority in the world. The FDA authority is exercised through the enforcement of
regulations published in the U.S.Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The principal drug
safety regulations are found in 21 CFR Part 312 (IND regulations) and 21 CFR Part 314
(NDA regulations). Pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the academic/non-profit organizations
(such as RADAR and Public Citizen) also play a role in pharmacovigilance in the US. The
rule-making process within the US federal government also permits significant input from the
legislative and executive branches of the US government, which also play a role in
determining FDA policy.
Despite receiving attention and necessary action by regulatory agencies like FDA and the
European Union, there is a lack of substantial procedures regarding impending monitoring of
drug concentrations in the environment and the palpable adverse effects. In 2006 a new
concept of pharmacovigilance in environmental pharmacology, entitled as
'Pharmacoenvironmentology' was suggested by Syed Ziaur Rahman. It is a form of
pharmacovigilance which deals specifically with those pharmacological agents that have
impact on the environment via elimination through living organisms subsequent to
Pharmacovigilance of Medical Devices
A medical device is an instrument, apparatus, implant, in vitro reagent, or similar or related
article that is used to diagnose, prevent, or treat disease or other conditions, and does not
achieve its purposes through chemical action within or on the body (which would make it
a drug). Whereas medicinal products (also called pharmaceuticals) achieve their principal
action by pharmacological, metabolic or immunological means, medical devices act by
physical, mechanical, or thermal means. Medical devices vary greatly in complexity and
application. Examples range from simple devices such as tongue depressors,
medical thermometers, and disposable gloves to advanced devices such as medical
robots, cardiac pacemakers, and neuroprosthetics.
Medical device reporting (MDR), which is the reporting of adverse events with medical
devices, is similar to that with medicinal products, although there are differences. For
instance, in the US user-facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes are legally required to
report suspected medical device-related deaths to both FDA and the manufacturer, if known,
and serious injuries to the manufacturer or to FDA, if the manufacturer is unknown. This is
in contrast to the voluntary reporting of AEs with medicinal products
pharmacovigilance (PV) has never been more important. To ensure patient safety, minimize
costs and ease regulatory compliance, pharmaceutical firms must aggressively detect and
manage emerging safety risks. Yet early risk detection can be undercut by manual processes
and a lack of integration across information sources.
What is ISoP
The International Society of Pharmacovigilance (ISoP) is an international non-profit
scientific organisation, which aims to foster(devlop) Pharmacovigilance both
scientifically and educationally, and enhance all aspects of the safe and proper use of
medicines, in all countries.
These objectives will be met by:
Encouraging and extending research in the field of pharmacovigilance
Promoting a regular exchange of information bearing on Pharmacovigilance by means
of meetings, symposia, workshops, and bulletins, and specifically organising ISOP
congresses, including an Annual Meeting
Encouraging pharmacovigilance education at all levels. Cooperating with other
organizations and societies concerned with pharmacovigilance
Publishing scientific and other relevant aspects of Pharmacovigilance
Engaging in other activities which are pertinent to pharmacovigilance
Seeking funds, and awarding grants, fellowships, subventions and other contracts to
promote pharmacovigilance. (statutes art 1 & 2)
ISoP should provide an authoritative view of the clinical application of
Overall, ISoP is committed to the view that:
the Society should be both professional and convivial
younger practitioners should have the opportunity to benefit from engagement with
experienced scientists and enjoy training through personal contact
ISoP's constituency is those engaged in the practical and clinical aspects of
pharmacovigilance, the doers, and that the Society is committed to person to person
ISoP may be able to provide assistance to individual countries to improve the
coherence of their national systems
ISoP must be aware of cultural, linguistic, organisational and regulatory diversity, and
make provision for responding to differing needs and aspirations