Improving drug safety with adverse event detection using natural language processing

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Pharmacovigilance (PV) involves monitoring and aggregating adverse event information from a variety of data sources, including health records, biomedical literature, spontaneous adverse event reports, product labels, and patient-generated content like social media posts, but the most pertinent details in these sources are typically available in narrative free-text formats. Natural language processing (NLP) techniques can be used to extract clinically relevant information from PV texts to inform decision-making. Areas covered: We conducted a non-systematic literature review by querying the PubMed database to examine the uses of NLP in drug safety and distilled the findings to present our expert opinion on the topic. Expert opinion: New NLP techniques and approaches continue to be applied for drug safety use cases; however, systems that are fully deployed and in use in a clinical environment remain vanishingly rare. To see high-performing NLP techniques implemented in the real setting will require long-term engagement with end users and other stakeholders and revised workflows in fully formulated business plans for the targeted use cases. Additionally, we found little to no evidence of extracted information placed into standardized data models, which should be a way to make implementations more portable and adaptable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Safety
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2023


  • Adverse Drug Event
  • Drug Safety
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Postmarketing Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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