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N Engl J Med. 1977 Mar 3;296(9):481-5.

The discovery of drug-induced illness.


The increased use of drugs (and the concurrent increased risks of drug-induced illness) require definition of relevant research areas and strategy. For established marketed drugs, research needs depend on the magnitudes of risk of an illness from a drug and the base-line risk. With the drug risk high and the base-line risk low, the problem surfaces in premarketing studies or through the epidemic that develops after marketing. If the drug adds slightly to a high base-line risk, the effect is undetectable. When both risks are low, adverse effects can be discovered by chance, but systematic case-referent studies can speed discovery. If both risks are high, clinical trials and nonexperimental studies may be used. With both risks intermediate, systematic evaluations, especially case-referent studies are needed. Newly marketed drugs should be routinely evaluated through compulsory registration and follow-up study of the earliest users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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