Disproportionality screening analysis is acknowledged as a tool for performing signal detection in databases of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), e.g., in the European Union (EU) Drug Authority setting. The purpose of this study was to explore the possibility of decreasing false-positive signals of disproportionate reporting (SDR) by calculating the proportional reporting ratio (PRR)-by-therapeutic area (TA), while still maintaining the ability to detect relevant SDRs.
In the EudraVigilance (EV) Database, output from PRR calculated with a restricted TA comparator background was compared in detail to output from conventional authority-setting PRR calculations for four drugs: bicalutamide, abiraterone, metformin, and vildagliptin, within the TAs of prostate gland disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
ADR reports per investigated drug ranged from 2,400 to 50,000. The PRR-TA’s ability to detect true-positive SDRs (as acknowledged in approved labeling) was increased compared to the conventional PRR, and performed 8–31 % better than a recently proposed stricter EU-SDR definition. The PRR-TA removed false SDRs confounded by disease or disease spill-over by up to 63 %, while retaining/increasing the number of unclassified SDRs relevant for manual validation, and thereby improving the ratio between confounded SDRs (i.e., noise) and unclassified SDRs for all investigated drugs (possible signals).
The performance of the PRR was improved by background restriction with the PRR-TA method; the number of false-positive SDRs decreased, and the ability to detect true-positive SDRs increased, improving the signal-to-noise ratio. Further development and validation of the method is needed within other TAs and databases, and for disproportionality analysis methods.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00228-014-1658-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.