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A method of estimating the probability of adverse drug reactions



The estimation of the probability that a drug caused an adverse clinical event is usually based on clinical judgment. Lack of a method for establishing causality generates large between-raters and within-raters variability in assessment. Using the conventional categories and definitions of definite, probable, possible, and doubtful adverse drug reactions (ADRs), the between-raters agreement of two physicians and four pharmacists who independently assessed 63 randomly selected alleged ADRs was 38% to 63%, kappa (k, a chance-corrected index of agreement) varied from 0.21 to 0.40, and the intraclass correlation coefficient of reliability (R[est]) was 0.49. Six (testing) and 22 wk (retesting) later the same observers independently reanalyzed the 63 cases by assigning a weighted score (ADR probability scale) to each of the components that must be considered in establishing causal associations between drug(s) and adverse events (e.g., temporal sequence). The cases were randomized to minimize the influence of learning. The event was assigned a probability category from the total score. The between-raters reliability (range: percent agreement = 83% to 92%; κ = 0.69 to 0.86; r = 0.91 to 0.95; R(est) = 0.92) and within-raters reliability (range: percent agreement = 80% to 97%; κ = 0.64 to 0.95; r = 0.91 to 0.98) improved (p < 0.001). The between-raters reliability was maintained on retesting (range: r = 0.84 to 0.94; R(est) = 0.87). The between-raters reliability of three attending physicians who independently assessed 28 other prospectively collected cases of alleged ADRs was very high (range: r = 0.76 to 0.87; R(est) = 0.80). It was also shown that the ADR probability scale has consensual, content, and concurrent validity. This systematic method offers a sensitive way to monitor ADRs and may be applicable to postmarketing drug surveillance.
A method for estimating the probability of adverse
drug reactions
The estimation of the probability that a drug caused an adverse clinical event is usually based
on clinical judgment. Lack of a method for establishing causality generates large between-raters
and within-raters variability in assessment. Using the conventional categories and definitions of
definite, probable, possible, and doubtlid adverse drug reactions (ADRs), the between-raters
agreement of two physicians and tour pharmacists who independently assessed 63 randomly
selected alleged ADRs was 38% to 63%, kappa (K, a chance-corrected index of agreement)
varied from 0.21 to 0.40, and the intraclass correlation coefficient of reliability (R[est]) was
0.49. Six (testing) and 22 wk (retesting) later the same observers independently reanalyzed the
63 cases by assigning a weighted score (ADR probability scale) to each of the components that
must be considered in establishing causal associations between drug(s) and adverse events (e.g.,
temporal sequence). The cases were randomized to minimize the influence of learning. The event
was assigned a probability category from the total score. The between-raters reliability (range:
percent agreement = 83% to 92%; K = 0.69 to 0.86; r 0.91 to 0.95; R(est) = 0.92) and
within-raters reliability (range: percent agreement = 80% to 97%; K = 0.64 to 0.95; r = 0.91
to 0.98) improved (p < 0.001). The between-raters reliability was maintained on retesting
(range: r =- 0.84 to 0.94; R(est) = 0.87). The between-raters reliability of three attending
physicians who independently assessed 28 other prospectively collected cases of alleged ADRs
was very high (range: r = 0.76 to 0.87; R(est) = 0.80). It was also shown that the ADR
probability scale has consensual, content, and concurrent validity. This systematic method offers
a sensitive way to monitor ADRs and may be applicable to postmarketing drug surveillance.
C. A. Naranjo, M.D., U. Busto, Pharm.D., E. M. Sellers, M.D., Ph.D., P. Sandor, M.D.,
I. Ruiz, Pharm.D.,* E. A. Roberts, M.D., E. Janecek, B.Sc. Phm.,
C. Domecq, Pharm.D.,* and D. J. Greenblatt, M.D.** Toronto, Ontario
Clinical Pharmacology Program, Addiction Research Foundation Clinical Institute, and
Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Toronto
Received for publication April 15, 1980.
Accepted for publication March 20, 1981.
Reprint requests to: C. A. Naranjo, M.D., Clinical Pharmacology
Program, Addiction Research Foundation Clinical Institute, 33 Rus-
sell St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S1, Canada.
*Clinical Pharmacy Group, Faculty of Chemical Sciences, Uni-
versidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
**Division of Clinical Pharmacology, New England Medical
Centre Hospital, Boston, MA.
The most important problem in assessing ad-
verse drug reactions (ADRs) is whether there is
a causal relationship between the drug and the
untoward clinical event. The use of the con-
ventional definitions and probabilities of de-
finite, probable, possible, and doubtful ADRs5
generates wide variability in assessment. Koch-
0009-9236/811080239+07$00.70/0 0 1981 The C. V. Mosby Co. 239
240 Naranjo et al.
Table I. ADR probability scale
To assess the adverse drug reaction, please answer the following questionnaire and give the pertinent score.
Weser et al.8 found that clinical pharmacolo-
gists frequently disagreed when analyzing the
causality of ADRs, and others" 7 have come to
similar conclusions. Manifestations of ADRs
are nonspecific. The suspected drug is usually
confounded with other causes, and often the ad-
verse clinical event cannot be distinguished
from manifestations of the disease. Recently
there have been attempts to systematize the as-
sessment of causality of ADRs, applying oper-
ational definitions such as those proposed by
Karch and Lasagna6 and by Kramer et al.6 The
application of these methods in routine clinical
practice has been limited, perhaps because they
are too detailed and time consuming. We devel-
oped a simple method to assess the causality of
ADRs in a variety of clinical situations, and its
systematic application to different cases of al-
leged ADRs has provided reliable answers.
Materials and methods
To test the reliability and validity of the ADR
probability scale (Table I) several studies were
conducted. In the main study, on three occa-
sions (phases 1, 2, and 3) six observers (two
physicians and four pharmacists) independently
Total score
Clin. Pharmacol. Titer.
August 1981
assessed 63 randomly selected alleged ADRs.
These cases composed a stratified random
sample (18.8%) of 335 cases of ADRs pub-
lished during 1978 in the British Medical Jour-
nal (22 cases), Lancet (17 cases), Annals of
Internal Medicine (12 cases), Journal of the
American Medical Association (8 cases), and
New England Journal of Medicine (4 cases).*
The cases were randomized to minimize learn-
ing, and the sequence was kept blind to the
In the first assessment (phase 1) an "adverse
drug reaction" (ADR) was defined as any nox-
ious, unintended, and undesired effect of a drug
after doses used in humans for prophylaxis,
diagnosis, or therapy. This definition excludes
therapeutic failures, intentional and accidental
poisoning, and drug abuse.'6 The probability
that the adverse event was related to drug ther-
apy was classified as definite, probable, possi-
ble, or doubtful.6' 12 A "definite" reaction was
one that (1) followed a reasonable temporal se-
quence after a drug or in which a toxic drug
level had been established in body fluids or tis-
*A list of the reports will be provided on request.
Yes No Do not know Score
I. Are there previous conclusive reports on this
reaction? +1 0 0
2. Did the adverse event appear after the suspected drug
was administered? +2 1 0
3. Did the adverse reaction improve when the drug was
discontinued or a specific antagonist was admin-
+1 0 0
4. Did the adverse reaction reappear when the drug was
readministered? +2 1 0
5. Are there alternative causes (other than the drug) that
could on their own have caused the reaction? +2 0
6. Did the reaction reappear when a placebo was given? 1 +1 0
7. Was the drug detected in the blood (or other fluids) in
concentrations known to be toxic? +1 0 0
8. Was the reaction more severe when the dose was in-
creased, or less severe when the dose was decreased? +1 0 0
9. Did the patient have a similar reaction to the same or
similar drugs in any previous exposure? +1 0 0
10. Was the adverse event confirmed by any objective
evidence? +1 0 0
Volume 30
Number 2
sues, (2) followed a recognized response to the
suspected drug, and (3) was confirmed by im-
provement on withdrawing the drug and reap-
peared on reexposure. A "probable" reaction
(1) followed a reasonable temporal sequence
after a drug, (2) followed a recognized response
to the suspected drug, (3) was confirmed by
withdrawal but not by exposure to the drug, and
(4) could not be reasonably explained by the
known characteristics of the patient's clinical
state. A "possible" reaction (1) followed a
temporal sequence after a drug, (2) possibly fol-
lowed a recognized pattern to the suspected
drug, and (3) could be explained by charac-
teristics of the patient's disease. A reaction was
defined as "doubtful" if it was likely related to
factors other than a drug.
Six weeks later the 63 cases were reordered
randomly and reanalyzed (phase 2). The observ-
ers independently assigned a weighted score to
the components used to establish a causal asso-
ciation between drugs and adverse events (tem-
poral sequence, pattern of response, withdrawal,
reexposure, alternative causes, placebo re-
sponse, drug levels in body fluids or tissues,
dose-response relationship, previous patient ex-
perience with the drug, and confirmation by ob-
jective evidence). These factors were analyzed
and scored using the ADR probability scale
(Table I). Each question could be answered
positive (yes), negative (no), or unknown or
inapplicable (do not know). The raters were in-
structed to use the questionnaire for about 20
min.* The ADR was assigned to a probability
category from the total score as follows: definite
probable 5 to 8, possible 1 to 4, doubtful
The between-raters reliability to use the
categorical classification of ADR probability
was measured using percent agreement and
kappa (K, a chance-corrected index of agree-
ment). 14 Kappa was calculated as follows:
13. Pc
K = 1 Pe
where Po proportion of observed agreement
*An appendix with instructions for using our ADR probability
scale will be supplied with reprints and will also be available from
the National Auxiliary Publication Service, American Society of
Information Services, 1010 16th St. NW., Washington, D.C.
Method for assessing probability of ADRs 241
and Pc = proportion of agreement expected by
chance. Kappa ranged from 1 (complete dis-
agreement) to +1 (perfect agreement). Correla-
tion coefficients between ADR scores were also
used to test between-raters and within-raters re-
liability in phases 2 and 3. The intraclass corre-
lation coefficient of reliability (Kest]) was also
R(est) + +
where S = variance from the cases, S =
variance generated by the raters, and S2, = re-
sidual variance or error. This coefficient is the
ratio of the variance associated with true case-
to-case variability to the sum of all the compo-
nents of variance. R(est) varies from zero (i.e.,
no intercase variation is detected by the ratings,
the ratings are the result only of measurement
error and between-rater differences) to a maxi-
mum of unity (i.e., intercase variation is cor-
rectly detected by the ratings, there is no contam-
ination by measurement error or rater-to-rater
variation). 14 The R(est) was calculated in phase
1, assuming a score of 1 (doubtful), 2 (possi-
ble), 3 (probable), or 4 (definite). The actual
ADR scores were used in phases 2 and 3.
To determine whether the improvement in
reliability found in phase 2 had occurred by
chance the cases were again reordered randomly
and reanalyzed independently by the six raters 4
mo later (phase 3). This allowed us to assess
within-rater and between-rater retest reliability.
The between-rater reliability of practicing phy-
sicians was also tested. Three attending physi-
cians independently rated 28 other prospec-
tively collected cases of alleged ADR observed
in the Toronto Western Hospital.
Validity. To establish validity comparison
with a standard is necessary. Because there is
no method that can determine which adverse
events are truly ADR, we studied the validity of
the ADR probability scale in several ways.
Consensual validity was tested as follows. (1)
The consensus assessment of three "experts"
(C. A. N., E. M. S., D. J. G.) using the con-
ventional categories of ADR probabilities was
the external standard with which physicians-
pharmacists assessments were compared. Their
expertise is supported by publications.8' 10, 12
242 Naranjo et al.
Table III. Within-raters agreement
(2) One of the experts (C. A. N.) assessed the
reactions using the ADR probability scale, and
his ratings were compared with those by the
physicians-pharmacists in phase 2. Content va-
lidity was tested in the 63 reported cases and in
the 28 prospectively collected cases, comparing
the variations in the ADR scores of reactions
considered possible, probable, or definite and
those classified as definite nondrug adverse
events. Concurrent validity was tested by com-
paring the correlation of the scores of the 63
ADRs obtained by our method with those de-
rived by the algorithm described by Kramer
et a1.2' 9
Table II shows that there was poor between-
raters agreement when the conventional defini-
tions of ADRs were used (phase 1). Percent
agreement ranged from 41% to 57% (kappa =
0.21 to 0.37, R(est) 0.49). When the ob-
servers applied the ADR probability scale (phase
2) there was a rise in percent agreement (83% to
92%), K (0.69 to 0.86), and r (0.91 to 0.95)
(sign test, p < 0.001). The intraclass correla-
tion coefficient of reliability (R[est] = 0.92)
indicates high reproducibility. The between-
raters reliability was maintained on phase 3 re-
testing (r = 0.84 to 0.93, R(est) = 0.87). The
high within-raters reliability using the ADR
probability scale (phase 2 versus phase 3) is
shown in Table III. The percent agreement
ranged from 80% to 97% (K = 0.64 to 0.95,
r = 0.91 to 0.98). The between-raters reliabil-
ity of the three attending physicians who rated
the 28 prospectively collected ADRs was also
high (r = 0.76 to 0.87, Kest] = 0.80).
Validity. Percent agreement between the con-
sensus of experts and the physicians-pharma-
cists assessments ranged from 79% to 84%
(K = 0.64 to 0.71). Percent agreement with the
expert (C. A. N.) who used the ADR probabil-
ity scale ranged from 86% to 95% (K = 0.75 to
Clin. Pharmacol. Ther.
August 1981
Phase 1
phase 2
phase 3
Phase 2
phase 3
ROI 43 0.23 38 0.16 92 0.85 0.96
R02 67 0.47 63 0.50 86 0.75 0.91
R04 54 0.28 48 0.19 80 0.64 0.94
R06 44 0.22 44 0.22 97 0.95 0.98
R08 36 0.17 43 0.25 87 0.78 0.93
R10 51 0.26 57 0.38 87 0.79 0.97
Table II. Between-raters agreement
Pairs of raters
Phase I Phase 2 Phase 3
ROI-R02 52 0.35 83 0.69 0.93 0.85
RO4 56 0.37 83 0.70 0.93 0.84
RO6 44 0.22 86 0.75 0.92 0.94
RO8 49 0.32 87 0.77 0.94 0.89
RIO 54 0.35 84 0.72 0.93 0.91
R02-R04 54 0.31 83 0.71 0.91 0.87
RO6 49 0.29 89 0.80 0.94 0.87
RO8 48 0.32 86 0.75 0.93 0.89
R10 52 0.29 90 0.83 0.95 0.90
R04-R06 54 0.35 84 0.72 0.91 0.87
RO8 48 0.36 83 0.70 0.93 0.87
RIO 57 0.36 83 0.71 0.91 0.86
R06-R08 46 0.27 92 0.86 0.94 0.91
R10 54 0.35 90 0.83 0.92 0.93
R08-R10 41 0.21 86 0.77 0.94 0.93
Intraclass correlation coefficient R(est) = 0.49 R(est) = 0.92 R(est) = 0.87
of reliability
Volume 30
Number 2
ct (3) 2 2
E) 0
a) > -o
0.91, r = 0.94 to 0.96). The ADR scores ob-
tained rating the 63 reported cases with our
method correlated with those derived using the
algorithm described by Kramer et al.2 (r =
0.82, p <0.001).
Our data indicated a marked improvement
in between-raters and within-raters agreement
when the adverse events were assessed with our
ADR probability scale. The intraclass correla-
tion coefficient of reliability (R[est] =- 0.92)
suggests that the method can discriminate
ADRs of different probabilities. The repro-
ducibility was maintained on retesting, and re-
sults of the same order were obtained when
physicians rated a different set of prospectively
collected cases of ADR. The ADR probability
scale is a simple questionnaire that can be an-
swered rapidly.
A major problem in drug-monitoring studies
is lack of a reliable method of assessing the
causal relation between drugs and adverse
events. Such a method is needed because the
incidence of adverse events can be estimated
only from cases identified as definite or prob-
able ADRs.5 Our data and those of others have
demonstrated large interobserver variations
in assessments when the conventional cate-
gorical definitions of probability of ADRs
were used. 7' 8 Our ADR probability scale led
to improved reproducibility in assessments.
Using our scale, pairs of raters had scores that
Method for assessing probability of ADRs 243
if if if iiTi
Iii 30 35 40 45 50 55 60
Fig. 1. Distribution of ADR scores in 63 cases of alleged ADRs.
were within the same diagnostic category or
only one category apart. When there was dis-
agreement it was usually not substantial, as in-
dicated by the small standard deviation of the
ADR scores (Fig. 1) and the high correlation
coefficients between scores (Tables II and III).
A 3-point between-raters disagreement occurred
in only one very complicated case.
It is possible that high reproducibility could
occur without using the ADR probability scale,
but the poor within-raters (phase 1/2 and phase
1/3; Table III) and between-raters agreements
(phase 1; Table II) using the conventional
definitions rule out this possibility. Perhaps the
high agreement occurred because the 63 cases
were selected from published reports and in-
cluded only three ADR categories (possible,
probable, and definite), which generated spuri-
ously high reproducibility, but this seems un-
likely. Fig. 1 shows that the cases represented a
broad spectrum of ADRs (scores ranged from
2 to +12). The good correlation between the
actual ADR scores reflecting between-raters re-
liability (r = 0.91 to 0.95; Table II) and with-
in-raters reliability (r = 0.91 to 0.98; Table III)
and the high K values suggest that the ADR
probability scale was the basis of a genuine
improvement in reproducibility. When attend-
ing physicians used our method to rate a differ-
ent set of reactions the between-raters agree-
ment was good (R[est] = 0.80).
Using the ADR probability scale we were
also able to identify the origin of the interrater
0 12
co R(est)=0.92
<2 5 10 15 20 25
244 Naranjo et al.
disagreements. The assessment of question 5
(alternative causes) led to the most disagree-
ment. In view of the complex clinical situations
and the differences in training of the observers,
this should have been anticipated. Pharmacists
in general were more likely to answer "I do not
know" to this question. Hutchinson et al:4
found that this could be a major source of dis-
agreement even though very detailed instruc-
tions were given. In some complicated cases no
algorithm can substitute for clinical experience.
Even though the reproducibility of an instru-
ment is important, its validity must also be
considered. The observers could agree among
themselves, but they could also all be wrong. In
cases of adverse events there is no definite stan-
dard against which to test the validity of new
operational definitions of ADRs. We therefore
assessed the validity of our ADR probability
scale in several ways. The agreement of the six
raters with the consensus of three experts was
very high, suggesting that our instrument has
consensual validity. Although the experts may
not always accurately classify reactions, the
probability that the consensus of three experts
would be completely wrong all the time is
small. The high agreement between the physi-
cians-pharmacists and one of the experts using
the ADR probability scale also indicates con-
sensual validity. The concurrent validity of our
instrument is suggested by the good correlation
between the ADR scores generated by our
method and those of another recently published
algorithm.2 The negative scores in the definite
nondrug adverse events and the positive scores
in the "true" ADR indicate that our method had
content validity. Our findings indicate that our
ADR probability scale is reliable and valid.
Important potential applications of the ADR
probability scale are the analysis of adverse
drug-related events published in medical jour-
nals as well as the assessment of reports submit-
ted to national drug monitoring centers. Many
countries are interested in developing postmar-
keting drug surveillance programs.3 The reli-
ability of the ADR assessments in case studies
could improve if operational definitions such as
ours and similar procedures are used. 15 Advan-
tages of our method are simplicity and wide
applicability. Some minor modifications may be
Clin. Pharmacol. Ther.
August 1981
required in special circumstances. In analyzing
adverse drug interactions suspect interacting
drugs rather than a particular drug must be as-
sessed. When a patient receives several drugs at
the same time the ADR scale must be applied to
each of the possible causes; the most likely will
be the drug with the highest score. In reactions
that appear during drug withdrawal, withdrawal
corresponds to reinstituting treatment and rep-
etition corresponds to discontinuing the suspect
drug. The conventional classification of definite,
probable, possible, and doubtful ADRs, as pro-
posed by Seidl et al.13 in 1966, assumes four
discrete categories for which there is no empiri-
cal demonstration. It is therefore reasonable to
postulate that some of the unreliability of the
conventional definitions or operational defini-
tions of ADRs could result, because such cate-
gories are not unique (i.e., the unreliability
could reflect the overlap between nondiscrete
categories). Thus the higher correlation co-
efficients of the actual ADR scores (r = 0.91 to
0.94), as compared with the kappa values when
using four categories (K = 0.69 to 0.83) (Table
II), support this view and indicate the need to
characterize the probability spectrum of ADRs
empirically. We suggest that it is preferable
to classify the probability using the actual
ADR scores by our and similar operational
Notwithstanding our encouraging results, it is
unrealistic to expect that our relatively simple
procedure will solve all the complex problems
of identification and classification of ADRs.
Further experience will provide the rationale for
refinements and improvements and will confirm
its utility in clinical practice. Our findings sug-
gest that its systematic application can improve
the quality of the assessment of ADRs in a va-
riety of clinical situations.
The collaboration of Doctors M. Spino, H. Wang,
and M. Rudyk and of S. Schachter, B.Sc., in some of
the phases of the study is gratefully acknowledged.
1. Blanc S, Leuenberger P, Berger JP, Brooke EM,
Schelling JL: Judgments of trained observers on
adverse drug reactions. CLIN PHARMACOL THER
25:493-498, 1979.
Volume 30
Number 2
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Background: Camrelizumab (SHR-1210), an immune checkpoint inhibitor, is clinically used as a therapeutic option for various types of tumors. However, reports of adverse reactions associated with camrelizumab are gradually increasing. Anaphylactic shock due to camrelizumab has not been reported previously, until now. We report here, for the first time, a case of anaphylactic shock associated with camrelizumab in a patient with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Case summary: An 84-year-old male esophageal cancer patient received radiotherapy and chemotherapy 11 years ago. He was diagnosed with advanced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma with liver metastasis (TxN1M1) and received the first immunotherapy (camrelizumab 200 mg/each time, once every 3 wk) dose in December 2020, with no adverse reactions. Three weeks later, a generalized rash was noted on the chest and upper limbs; palpitations and breathing difficulties with a sense of dying occurred 10 min after the patient had been administered with the second camrelizumab therapy. Electrocardiograph monitoring revealed a 70 beats/min pulse rate, 69/24 mmHg (1 mmHg = 0.133 kPa) blood pressure, 28 breaths/min respiratory rate, and 86% pulse oximetry in room air. The patient was diagnosed with anaphylactic shock and was managed with intravenous fluid, adrenaline, dexamethasone sodium phosphate, calcium glucosate, and noradrenaline. Approximately 2 h after treatment, the patient's anaphylactic shock symptoms had been completely relieved. Conclusion: Due to the widespread use of camrelizumab, attention should be paid to anti-programmed cell death 1 antibody therapy-associated hypersensitivity or anaphylactic shock.
Purpose: To review a case of angioedema associated with mirabegron. Summary: A 77-year-old woman presented to the emergency department with swelling of the left anterior side of the tongue beginning 90 minutes prior to arrival. She noticed tingling on her tongue while eating a hamburger, chips, and ice cream. The patient had no history of medication-related allergies. Home medications include acetaminophen, aspirin, biotin, black cohosh, Co-enzyme Q-10, cranberry, fish oil, multivitamin, alendronate, and mirabegron all taken orally. The patient reports being on mirabegron for 3 to 4 years but recently decided to self-taper off the medication. Her initial laboratory test results were unremarkable. The patient was diagnosed with left tongue angioedema, and she received methylprednisolone, epinephrine, famotidine, and 2 units of plasma. After medication administration, the patient underwent a flexible nasopharyngeal laryngoscopy resulting in no significant angioedema in the pharynx and hypopharynx with a small area of possible edema noted on the right base of tongue/lingual tonsil. Patient’s symptoms improved with medication treatment and discontinuation of mirabegron. The use of Naranjo et al. adverse-event probability scale revealed that mirabegron was the possible (score of 4) cause of the patient’s left tongue angioedema. Conclusion: A 77-year-old woman developed drug induced tongue angioedema associated with mirabegron after being compliant on this medication for 3 to 4 years. Patient was self-tapering her dose of mirabegron. This patient responded well to medication treatment and discontinuation of drug. To our knowledge, this is the second case report of mirabegron induced angioedema.
Thrombocytopenia is a commonly encountered complication of hospitalized patients, and can be caused by many factors including infections, surgery, and medications. Drug-induced thrombocytopenia (DITP) should be considered when a patient presents with an unexpected occurrence of thrombocytopenia. Many drugs can induce thrombocytopenia either as a direct effect on thrombopoiesis within the bone marrow or by drug-dependent antibody-mediated destruction of platelets within the circulation. We present the case of a 44-year-old female who presented with 2 weeks of nausea, vomiting, and headaches occurring with her hemodialysis sessions. On admission she was found to be thrombocytopenic with a platelet count of 35 K/µL. Her last known normal platelet count was 299 K/µL from 2 months prior. A thorough work up of her thrombocytopenia was found to be unremarkable. Her newly started carvedilol was thought to be the most likely cause based on the rapid platelet recovery upon drug discontinuation and negative workup of other potential causes.
Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are estimated to be between the fourth and sixth most common cause of death worldwide, taking their place among other prevalent causes of mortality such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. ADRs impact a broad range of populations across a wide variety of global geography and demographics, with significant mortality and morbidity burden in vulnerable groups such as older people, pediatric populations, and individuals in low-income settings. Too large a share of medicines risk management remains limited to signal detection in big ADR databases (USFDA, EMA, WHO, etc.) This resource allocation is antiquated and applied statistical signal detection methodologies have reached their limits of usefulness. In addition, existing databases are designed for short-term reactions, closely related to medication use and, thus, can only partially assess important broader consequences across geography, time, and clinical relevance. There is an urgent need change the dynamic. We need to identify (earlier and more regularly) many of the important but often overlooked or missed ADRs. Rather than assigning blame, we need to identify the root causes of the problem so it can clearly addressed and fixed.The public health implications are profound – particularly as we recognize the importance of predicting and mitigating the next pandemic. Consequently, medicines risk management must be integrated within a broader global public health vision. To accomplish this, we need to develop the new tools and methodologies critical to assessing these public health imperatives.
Background. Synthetic cannabinoid-related acute kidney injury represents an increasingly important public health issue due to the diagnostic challenges given by low clinical suspicion of the disease and the frequent undetectability in routine drug tests. Methods. A systematic literature search on PubMed was carried out until 31 January 2022. Case reports, case series, retrospective and prospective studies, as well as reviews on acute kidney injury related to the consumption of synthetic cannabinoid were searched. Results. The systematic review process selected 21 studies for a total of 55 subjects with synthetic cannabinoid-induced acute kidney injury. Renal damage was demonstrated by elevated serum creatinine levels in 49 patients (89%). On renal ultrasound, the most frequent finding was an increase in cortical echogenicity. Renal biopsy, performed in 33% of cases, revealed acute tubular damage, acute tubulointerstitial nephritis, and acute interstitial nephritis, in decreasing order of frequency. Conclusion. Prompt identification and treatment of synthetic cannabinoid-related acute kidney injury represent a sensitive public health goal both for the acute management of damage from synthetic cannabinoids and for the prevention of chronic kidney disease.
The objectives of postmarketing surveillance (PMS) of new drugs was previously reported and the experimental designs available for conducting such studies was also discussed. Actual examples of PMS on specific drugs are analyzed and the implications of the results are discussed in this report.
Patients (672) admitted to a department of medicine during five consecutive months were followed by an investigator who identified 110 clinical manifestations which could have been considered adverse drug reactions. From these, 42 were excluded because they did not correspond to the definition of adverse reaction or they were inadequately documented. The remaining 68 cases were submitted to three independent observers who had to reply to a series of questions; from these replies five degrees of probability for the reaction itself were deduced. Reactions (54; 49% of the manifestations reported) were considered as certain or probable by at least two observers, but only 27 rections of these (25%) were attributed to the same drug by all three observers. There was a low level of agreement between any two observers (paired agreement ratio: 0.6 to 0.7) and little difference of agreement between any one observer and each of the others (personal agreement ratio: 0.6 to 0.7).
The reproducibility and validity of an algorithm for diagnosis of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) were tested in a clinical spectrum of 30 suspect cases. Using a questionnaire derived from the algorithm the three algorithm developers (nonexperts) agreed on the probability of ADR in 67% of cases, with pair-wise agreement varying from 73% to 87%. The pair-wise agreement of two clinical pharmacologic experts rose from 47% without the algorithm to 63% with the algorithm, with Kw, a chance-corrected index of weighted agreement, increasing from 0.26 to 0.57. The algorithmic assessments of the three nonexperts agreed with expert consensus in 80% to 83% of cases. The ADR algorithm appears to provide a reproducible and valid method of evaluating the likelihood of ADRs in individual patients. Its use can help improve the diagnostic and epidemiologic approach to these important, complex clinical phenomena. (JAMA 242:633-638, 1979)
Despite widespread clinical and epidemiologic attention to adverse drug reactions (ADRs), their clinical identification has been a nonreproducible act of unspecified subjective judgment; adequate operational criteria have not been available for diagnostic decisions about the cause of an observed untoward clinical manifestation. To improve scientific precision in the diagnosis of ADRs, we have developed an algorithm that provides detailed operational criteria for ranking the probability of causation when ADR is suspected between a drug and a clinical manifestation. The algorithm provides a scoring system for six axes of decision strategy: previous general experience with the drug, alternative etiologic candidates, timing of events, drug levels and evidence of overdose, dechallenge, and rechallenge. The sum of the scores is ordinally partitioned to rate the candidate ADR as definite, probable, possible, or unlikely.
Furosemide is frequently used for ascites and causes adverse reactions (AR). In an intensive prospective drug monitoring study of 1,920 patients, 172 (8.9%) had cirrhosis of the liver and received furosemide. Mean age was 53 years, and 66.3% were male; and 87% had alcoholic cirrhosis. Eighty-eight (51.2%) had 221 events that by consensus of the monitoring team and attending physicians were either definitely of probably related to furosemide. No AR was fatal but 24% of patients had severe reactions. Almost all reactions were dose-related (96%). The most common were electrolyte disturbances (23.3% of patients) and volume depletion (14%). Furosemide-induced coma occurred in 20 (11.6%) patients and was more frequent in patients with prior hepatic encephalopathy (p less than 0.0005). Higher total doses (p less than 0.001), hyerbilirubinemia (p less than 0.05), prolonged prothrombin time (p less than 0.02), and longer hospital stay (p less than 0.001) were associated with higher frequencies of AR to furosemide. The frequency of hypokalemia did not decrease when potassium chloride or potassium-sparing diuretics were added to furosemide therapy. Frequdncy of AR did not correlate with age, sex, renal impairment, serum albumin, transaminase, or alkaline phosphatase.
Three clinical pharmacologists independently evaluated 500 untoward clinical events reported by physicians as adverse drug reactions (ADRs). They often disagreed with the reporting physicians and with each other. They judged 14.4-28.2% of the events to be definite, 26.4-38.0% probable, 21.4-31.0% possible and 15.8-28.2% of the events to be definite, 26.4-38.0% probable, 21.4-31.0% possible and 15.8-28.2% unlikely ADRs. In their opinion 19.1-32.4% of the drugs blamed were definitely, 29.8-34.4% probably, 24.9-36.7% possibly and 8.4-14.5% not responsible for the adverse reactions. Evaluators disagreed among themselves about the drug most likely to have been responsible in 36.4% of the events, about ADRs causing hospital admission in 56.8%, about severe ADR morbidity in 55.8%, about ADR prolongation of hospitalization in 67.3% and ADR prolongation of hospitalization in 67.3% and about ADR contribution to death in 71.0%. The divergence of judgements suggests that suspected ADRs are usually ambiguous clinical events, and that incidence, severity, medical consequences and cost of ADRs can only be estimated.
The evaluation of adverse drug reactions in clinical practice is somewhat arbitrary and is characterized by considerable differences of opinion. This report presents a decision table algorithm approach toward the development of an operational system for the identification of adverse drug reactions. The algorithm incorporates an estimate of the certainty of the link between the untoward clinical event and the suspect drug, and examines the underlying causes of the identified drug reactions. Use of such a system is a first step toward reducing ambiguity in the evaluation of adverse drug reactions.
The data on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are incomplete, unrepresentative, uncontrolled, and lacking in operational criteria for identifying ADRs. No quantitative conclusions can be drawn from the reported data in regard to morbidity, mortality, or the underlying causes of ADRs, and attempts to extrapolate the available data to the general population would be invalid and perhaps misleading. To evaluate the impact as well as the causes of ADRs, representative populations, including general hospital and ambulatory patients of all medical specialties, must be studied, and operationally defined criteria must be used to establish the presence of an ADR in a prospective study that incorporates appropriate control populations. Similar studies on the benefits of drug use are needed to provide perspective on the risk-benefit aspects of drug therapy. Until such studies are performed, estimates of the nature and scope of the ADR problem can be only guesses.
The accurate identification of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is difficult because ADRs usually present no unique clinical or laboratory findings that demarcate them from the manifestations of concurrent illnesses. The identification of ADRs depends on the clinical assessments of physicians-sometimes the clinician treating the patient and at other times a clinical pharmacologist. Considering the complex and subjective nature of clinically identifying ADRs, how accurately are ADRs identified? To answer this question, three clinical pharmacologists each independently evaluated 60 selected cases to determine if medication, alcohol, or "recreational" drugs had caused the hospitalization. The three clinical pharmacologists agreed on only 30 cases (50%), and 27 of these were thought to be unrelated to medications. In 19 of the 30 cases about which the clinical pharmacologists disagreed, they disagreed on whether or not a medication-or alcohol-related event had occurred at all. The clinical pharmacologists disagreed with the physicians treating the patient in 22% to 37% of the cases, but because of the differences among the pharmacologists, the treating physicians agreed with at least one of them in 95% of the cases. Complete agreement between the clinical pharmacologists and the treating physicians occurred in 47% of the cases. This degree of disparity in the clinical identification of ADRs shows that the evaluation of ADRs is subjective and imprecise. The accurate identification of ADRs awaits the development of an objective technique for recognizing ADRs.
1 A simple valid and reliable method for estimating the probability of adverse drug reactions (adverse drug reactions probability scale, APS) has been recently described (Naranjo et al., 1981a). 2 The results using APS were compared to those obtained with another more detailed algorithm (adverse reactions scoring system, ASS) described by Kramer et al. (1979). 3 Sixty-three randomly selected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) were rated by two observers, using APS and ASS one year apart. The cases were ordered in a random sequence. Between-raters reliability using APS (R(est) = 0.96 and ASS (R(est) = 0.86), was very high. 4 ADR scores obtained with both methods were highly correlated (r = 0.82, P less than 0.001). However, time spent using ASS was significantly longer (paired t-test, t = 1.70, P less than 0.05). 5 These results suggest that while ASS is somewhat more complex than APS both are equally reliable and will give very similar conclusions regarding the probability of ADRs. Such algorithms must be used if the clinical assessment of ADRs is to become acceptably reliable.