QResearch – a not-for-profit partnership between UK IT supplier EMIS and the University of Nottingham – is supporting the first large scale Europe-wide initiative to detect adverse drug reactions (ADRs) – the ALERT project.
The QResearch database, which houses anonymised data from around 10 million UK patients, is the largest and most rapidly updated database taking part in the project, which has received €5 million funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under a grant agreement.
The recently-approved ALERT project aims to develop the first Europe-wide computerised system to detect ADRs better and faster than the current spontaneous reporting systems. The initial research phase is planned to span 3.5 years.
The project will involve a consortium of18 leading European research institutions using clinical data from the electronic healthcare records (EHRs) of more than 30 million patients from European countries including The Netherlands, Denmark, UK and Italy.
The interdisciplinary team of researchers will use biomedical informatics technologies to do this, combined with biological and molecular knowledge.
ALERT will use a variety of text mining, epidemiological and other computational techniques to analyse the EHRs to detect “signals’ (combinations of drugs and suspected adverse events that warrant further investigation).
QResearch project leader, Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox of the University of Nottingham said: “ALERT will, for the first time, design, develop and set up a process for monitoring adverse drug reactions for a significant proportion of the European population.
“We hope that the project will demonstrate that scientific and clinical evidence can quickly and directly be translated into improvements in patient safety and therefore health benefits. It will also enable us to compare how different people respond to a variety of drugs throughout Europe.
“Another benefit of the research will mean that we should be able to discriminate between true signals that point to an ADR and spurious signals. This can help to reduce uncertainty among both patients and physicians, ultimately saving lives and increasing the quality of day-to-day life for many patients.”