To date, use of the GPRD in pharmacovigilance has focused on hypothesis testing (see Garcia Rodriguez and Gutthann, 1998, for review). Hershel Jick and his colleagues at the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Programme pioneered the use of the GPRD for pharmaco-epidemiology over a decade ago. Today, regulatory authorities and the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Europe and the United States rely on data from GPRD to strengthen or refute signals of safety hazards, to quantify risk, and identify risk factors. Consequently, studies in GPRD have been instrumental in influencing regulatory action to restrict the use of medicines or to provide reassurance about their safety in the face of spurious signals.
There is heightened awareness of the promise which resources such as GPRD offer for signal generation. The implementation of powerful databases and application of pattern recognition techniques developed in other spheres, e.g. banking and defence, mean that investigation of the utility of GPRD in this area is now possible.
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