Limitations of these data sources include potential under-reporting, lack of geographic diversity, and time lag between event occurrence and discovery. There is growing interest in exploring the use of social media (‘social listening’) to supplement established approaches for pharmacovigilance. Although social listening is commonly used for commercial purposes, there are only anecdotal reports of its use in pharmacovigilance. Health information posted online by patients is often publicly available, representing an untapped source of post-marketing safety data that could supplement data from existing sources.
- Social media and Internet forums contain untapped safety and benefit information
- Methods exist to reduce noise and make the data suitable for post-marketing safety surveillance
- Additional research is needed to better understand the strengths, limitations, and best practices