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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Risk management strategies in the postmarketing period : safety experience with the US and European bosentan surveillance programmes.

In view of the shortcomings of the current system for postmarketing drug surveillance that is based on voluntary spontaneous adverse drug reaction (ADR) reporting, new approaches are needed.We describe an approach involving a combination of limited distribution, patient and physician education, as well as a novel pharmaco-vigilance system that is capable of promoting the safe and adequate use of a new drug. Importantly, it provides the possibility of calculating true ADR occurrence rates, as the exposed population (denominator) and the number of patients with events (numerator) are known. These measures were taken for the oral dual endothelin ET(A)/ET(B) antagonist bosentan (Tracleer). In recent guidelines issued by the European Society of Cardiology, American College of Chest Physicians and the WHO, this drug is considered as first-line oral treatment for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, a devastating orphan disease associated with a poor prognosis. Bosentan was approved in 2001/2 on the basis of two pivotal studies that showed improved exercise capacity and haemodynamic parameters while delaying time to clinical worsening. Elevations in serum liver aminotransferase levels of >3 times the upper limit of normal were noted in 10.2% of patients (placebo-subtracted incidence). Therefore, liver function tests have to be performed on a regular basis. In addition, bosentan has potential as a teratogen.In the US, a controlled distribution network for bosentan (Tracleer) Access Program [T.A.P.]) and the development of a patient database to follow patients was set up. Accompanied by comprehensive physician and patient education programmes, T.A.P. was developed to provide a mechanism to assist with the primary risk management goals for bosentan therapy, namely pregnancy prevention and liver enzyme monitoring and prevention of hepatic injury.In Europe, the Tracleer) Excellence (TRAX PMS) database is a novel European non-interventional, prospective, internet-based surveillance system initiated by the manufacturer in cooperation with the European Medicines Agency. It collected potential safety signals associated with bosentan use including adverse events, elevations of liver aminotransferase levels, other abnormal laboratory values, death and hospitalisation. TRAX PMS has accrued 79% of all known patients in the EU and the data provide supportive 'real-life' evidence on the long-term safety of bosentan.The two different systems had similar goals and outcomes. The data received concerning thousands of patient-years of use have confirmed the clinical trial results regarding product safety and the favourable benefit/risk ratio of bosentan, especially with regard to known type A adverse events. The clinical monitoring algorithm has also been confirmed. In addition, no rare type B events were uncovered despite the increased reporting rate. These systems might serve as templates for future pharmaco-vigilance efforts regarding drugs that require particular safety attention.[1]


  1. Risk management strategies in the postmarketing period : safety experience with the US and European bosentan surveillance programmes. Segal, E.S., Valette, C., Oster, L., Bouley, L., Edfjall, C., Herrmann, P., Raineri, M., Kempff, M., Beacham, S., van Lierop, C. Drug safety : an international journal of medical toxicology and drug experience. (2005) [Pubmed]
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