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Drug Saf. 2004;27(11):757-61.

Quantifying adverse drug events : are systematic reviews the answer?

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Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada.


Quantifying adverse drug events (ADEs) is critical to clinicians, consumers and policy makers. Most ADE information comes from large clinical trials. Systematic reviews have become a popular tool in quantifying the efficacy of different therapeutic interventions and ADE data collected in randomised trials may be helpful in quantifying the risk associated with a specific pharmacological agent. However, clinicians who are interested in conducting systematic reviews of ADEs may face many challenges. These challenges are geared towards two main areas: poor quality of ADE reporting in randomised trials and poor indexing of ADEs in medical databases. In this review, we will discuss these challenges in detail using some examples from the literature. Where possible, we also discuss strategies that may overcome these problems. More rigourous standards of reporting ADEs in randomised trials, as well as better indexing of ADE terminology in medical databases, could one day make systematic reviews of ADEs a powerful tool for practising clinicians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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