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Are Drug-Drug Interactions Today’s Biggest Health Threat?

Posted on October 16th, 2018 by in Pharma R&D

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The use of prescription medicines is sharply on the rise. Over the past decade, the number of adults taking over-the-counter medicines has sunk, while the number of prescription drug users has increased by more than 30 percent.

While pharma research has changed millions of lives for the better, the increased risk of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) could cost lives.  Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) cost lives. In the year 2013 alone, 142,000 deaths worldwide were traced back to adverse effects of pharmaceutical products. The potential for ADRs increases even more when a patient is taking multiple drugs simultaneously, due not only to potential ADRs from each medicine but also from drug-drug interactions (DDIs).

Despite these facts, research on the effects of DDIs remains strikingly inadequate. In order for clinicians to meet this threat effectively, that needs to change.

Significant risks

As of 2018, only a small number of publications have addressed the issue of DDIs, and the majority of those studies have focused on geriatric patients. Very few researchers have examined DDIs in emergency pediatric care in the U.S., although children are frequently administered more than 25 different drugs during a single hospital visit.

Even this limited research has revealed some disturbing trends: The average patient experiences at least two DDIs in a typical hospital stay, while estimates on the prevalence of DDIs in children and adolescents ranges from 3.8 percent to a full 75 percent of pediatric hospital visits worldwide.

Meeting the threat

DDIs represent a worldwide health threat of unknown magnitude — a threat that very few clinicians are trained to address in a systematic manner. The good news, however, is that a significant amount of raw data on DDIs already exists in electronic medical record systems around the world.

By cross-referencing anonymized patient data with publicly available drug profiles using tools for web-based mining and evaluation of data, research teams (such as those cited above) have begun to build a clearer picture of likely interactions between commonly prescribed medications. The more DDI data these facilities are able to access, the more effectively they can train their staff to anticipate and recognize a wide range of adverse drug reactions, including DDIs.






Sr. Manager, Pharma and Biotech Segment

Sr. Manager, Pharma and Biotech Segment

As a professional with over 14 years of experience in strategy development and partnership management across a variety of industries, Nicki’s latest role as a Senior Manager, Segment Marketing at Elsevier applies her skills to the area of drug discovery and development in the Pharma and Biotech industry.  In this capacity she is focused on understanding biopharmaceutical R&D challenges and turning them into opportunity to further Elsevier’s ability to serve industry executives and the professionals who innovate in the drug discovery and development space.  Prior to joining Elsevier, Nicki held senior alliance and strategy roles in the Legal, Tax & Accounting, Life Sciences and Cyber Security industries.

Nicki resides in New York City and holds a BA in English Literature and Mandarin Chinese from Carleton College in Northfield, MN.


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