Drug safety: WellPoint, FDA team up for electronic surveillance of drug side-effects

April 25, 2008

The giant insurer WellPoint is developing an electronic surveillance system for drug safety together with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and several universities.

The giant insurer WellPoint is developing an electronic surveillance system for drug safety together with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and several universities. It’s another example of the federal government collaboratingwith the private sector to harness silicon power in healthcare.

The so-called Safety Sentinel System envisioned by WellPoint will eventually monitor the records of its 35 million members to spot complications with medications and other treatment regimens. The FDA and faculty from Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Pennsylvania will help design the system.

The initiative isn’t happening in a vacuum. Last year, Congress passeda law directing the FDA to “establish public-private partnerships” thatwould help create a drug surveillance system using “available electronicdatabases.” The legislation and WellPoint’s Safety Sentinel Systemput the US in step with other countries (see “DataMining: European nations will scour EHRs to detect drug side-effects faster” in the April 11, 2008,edition of InfoTech Bulletin.)