Development and application of two semi-automated tools for targeted medical product surveillance in a distributed data network

Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2017 Dec;4(4):298-306. doi: 10.1007/s40471-017-0121-0. Epub 2017 Oct 6.


Purpose of review: An important component of the Food and Drug Administration's Sentinel Initiative is the active post-market risk identification and analysis (ARIA) system, which utilizes semi-automated, parameterized computer programs to implement propensity-score adjusted and self-controlled risk interval designs to conduct targeted surveillance of medical products in the Sentinel Distributed Database. In this manuscript, we review literature relevant to the development of these programs and describe their application within the Sentinel Initiative.

Recent findings: These quality-checked and publicly available tools have been successfully used to conduct rapid, replicable, and targeted safety analyses of several medical products. In addition to speed and reproducibility, use of semi-automated tools allows investigators to focus on decisions regarding key methodological parameters. We also identified challenges associated with the use of these methods in distributed and prospective datasets like the Sentinel Distributed Database, namely uncertainty regarding the optimal approach to estimating propensity scores in dynamic data among data partners of heterogeneous size.

Summary: Future research should focus on the methodological challenges raised by these applications as well as developing new modular programs for targeted surveillance of medical products.

Keywords: ARIA; Sentinel; drug safety; pharmacoepidemiology; surveillance; targeted.