Chinese researchers launch new drug safety platform

Technology / 23 March 2020

Photo: iStock

A group of Chinese scientists has launched the “Inquiring Drug Safety (iDS)” service, an online platform with a new approach to co-creating and sharing drug safety information.

The iDS platform provides drug safety information and personalised interactive counselling services for physicians, pharmacists, researchers, regulators, and the public. It also provides authorised users – such as drug researchers, manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and practitioners – with real-time monitoring data on adverse drug reactions and events (ADR/ADE).

Research and development of iDS was led by Professor Xiao-he Xiao, chairman of the International Cooperation Consortium for Traditional Medicine Safety Research, and Director of the Military Institute of Chinese Medicine, Chinese PLA General Hospital

In launching iDS, Prof. Xiao explained that the platform is mainly based on the drug safety information knowledge base independently built by his team based on multiple official Chinese and international academic sources. The platform also uses a novel causality assessment approach called the “integrated evidence chain” method – originally developed for use in drug-induced liver damage but considered applicable to other forms of drug-related harms.

“The iDS platform provides three functions, namely sharing and querying drug safety information, acquiring and co-creating safety information, and assessing and providing early warning of safety risks,” Prof. Xiao said.

“The co-creation mode allows authorised professionals to contribute data for peer review within the system. Information submitted to the knowledge base can later be revised by other professionals, subject to further peer review.”

Peer-reviewed data from the platform is shared with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) ADR Monitoring Centre. ADR reports from the public are not added to the knowledge base but may be transferred to professionals for evaluation if similar reports are received in a relevant time frame.

Presently, the platform includes over 2.7 million items of drug information and 18,754 searchable drugs and health products, including 1,687 chemical and biological drugs, 4,298 herbal and traditional medicines, and 12,769 health products. The platform also includes approximately 20,000 species of plants, of which about 3,000 are poisonous. The ADRs searchable via version 1.1 of the platform mainly include drug-induced liver injury, but also involve renal toxicity, cardiotoxicity, and neurotoxicity.

Users can search the platform by inputting the drug name, scanning product barcodes, or even uploading photos of traditional medicines or herbs for identification by artificial intelligence. The intelligent identification function can help people identify medicinal, edible, and poisonous plants; Chinese herbal medicines; and various species of flowers.

The iDS platform is delivered to users via the popular Chinese social network, WeChat, and members of the public are able to interact with and share information in accessible, non-technical language. In this respect, the platform serves as a valuable complement to existing monitoring, reporting, and risk information mechanisms.

Anyone with a WeChat account can access iDS. Currently it is available in Chinese only, but an English version is now being developed. The developers believe the platform can contribute to the WHO’s strategic goal of “medication without harm” and universally inclusive drug safety.

Jia-bo Wang
Vice Director of Integrative Medical Center, Fifth Medical Center of Chinese PLA General Hospital, China

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