Using Machine Learning to Identify Adverse Drug Effects Posing Increased Risk to Women

Patterns (N Y). 2020 Oct 9;1(7):100108. doi: 10.1016/j.patter.2020.100108. Epub 2020 Sep 22.


Adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the US. Although women take longer to metabolize medications and experience twice the risk of developing adverse reactions compared with men, these sex differences are not comprehensively understood. Real-world clinical data provide an opportunity to estimate safety effects in otherwise understudied populations, i.e., women. These data, however, are subject to confounding biases and correlated covariates. We present AwareDX, a pharmacovigilance algorithm that leverages advances in machine learning to predict sex risks. Our algorithm mitigates these biases and quantifies the differential risk of a drug causing an adverse event in either men or women. AwareDX demonstrates high precision during validation against clinical literature and pharmacogenetic mechanisms. We present a resource of 20,817 adverse drug effects posing sex-specific risks. AwareDX, and this resource, present an opportunity to minimize adverse events by tailoring drug prescription and dosage to sex.