The large-scale use of social media by the population has gained the attention of stakeholders and researchers in various fields. In the domain of pharmacovigilance, this new resource was initially considered as an opportunity to overcome underreporting and monitor the safety of drugs in real time in close connection with patients. Research is still required to overcome technical challenges related to data extraction, annotation, and filtering, and there is not yet a clear consensus concerning the systematic exploration and use of social media in pharmacovigilance. Although the literature has mainly considered signal detection, the potential value of social media to support other pharmacovigilance activities should also be explored. The objective of this paper is to present the main findings and subsequent recommendations from the French research project Vigi4Med, which evaluated the use of social media, mainly web forums, for pharmacovigilance activities. This project included an analysis of the existing literature, which contributed to the recommendations presented herein. The recommendations are categorized into three categories: ethical (related to privacy, confidentiality, and follow-up), qualitative (related to the quality of the information), and quantitative (related to statistical analysis). We argue that the progress in information technology and the societal need to consider patients’ experiences should motivate future research on social media surveillance for the reinforcement of classical pharmacovigilance.
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This work was funded by the AAP-2013-052 grant from the French agency for drug safety, Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé (ANSM), through the Vigi4Med research project, and Convention no 2016S076 through the PHARES project. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the ANSM.
Conflict of interest
Bissan Audeh, Florelle Bellet, Marie-Noëlle Beyens, Agnès Lillo-Le Louët, and Cédric Bousquet have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study.
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Audeh, B., Bellet, F., Beyens, MN. et al. Use of Social Media for Pharmacovigilance Activities: Key Findings and Recommendations from the Vigi4Med Project. Drug Saf 43, 835–851 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40264-020-00951-2