Adverse Event Reporting System
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The Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) is a computerized information database designed to support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) post-marketing safety surveillance program for all approved drug and therapeutic biologic products. The FDA uses AERS to monitor for new adverse events and medication errors that might occur with these marketed products.
Reporting of adverse events from the point of care is voluntary in the United States. FDA receives some adverse event and medication error reports directly from health care professionals (such as physicians, pharmacists, nurses and others) and consumers (such as patients, family members, lawyers and others). Healthcare professionals and consumers may also report these events to the products’ manufacturers. If a manufacturer receives an adverse event report, it is required to send the report to FDA as specified by regulations. The MedWatch site provides information about mandatory reporting.
The structure of AERS is in compliance with the international safety reporting guidance (ICH E2B2) issued by the International Conference on Harmonisation. Adverse events in AERS are coded to terms in the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities terminology (MedDRA)3.
AERS is a useful tool for FDA, which uses it for activities such as looking for new safety concerns that might be related to a marketed product, evaluating a manufacturer's compliance to reporting regulations and responding to outside requests for information. The reports in AERS are evaluated by clinical reviewers in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) to monitor the safety of products after they are approved by FDA. If a potential safety concern is identified in AERS, further evaluation might include Epidemiology studies. Based on an evaluation of the potential safety concern, FDA may take regulatory action(s) to improve product safety and protect the public health, such as updating a product’s labeling information, restricting the use of the drug, communicating new safety information to the public, or, in rare cases, removing a product from the market.
AERS data does have limitations. First, there is no certainty that the reported event was actually due to the product. FDA does not require that a causal relationship between a product and event be proven, and reports do not always contain enough detail to properly evaluate an event. Further, FDA does not receive all adverse event reports that occur with a product. Many factors can influence whether or not an event will be reported, such as the time a product has been marketed and publicity about an event. Therefore, AERS cannot be used to calculate the incidence of an adverse event in the U.S. population.