Drug Safety Issues Covered by Lay Media: A Cohort Study of Direct Healthcare Provider Communications Sent between 2001 and 2015 in The Netherlands

Esther de Vries, Petra Denig, Sieta T. de Vries, Taco B.M. Monster, Jacqueline G. Hugtenburg, Peter G.M. Mol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Some drug safety issues communicated through direct healthcare professional communications (DHPCs) receive substantial media coverage, while others do not. Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the extent of coverage of drug safety issues that have been communicated through DHPCs in newspapers and social media. A secondary aim was to explore which determinants may be associated with media coverage. Methods: Newspaper articles covering drug safety issues communicated through 387 DHPCs published between 2001 and 2015 were retrieved from LexisNexis Academic™. Social media postings were retrieved from Coosto™ for drugs included in 220 DHPCs published between 2010 and 2015. Coverage of DHPCs by newspapers and social media was assessed during the 2-month and 14-day time periods following issuance of the DHPC, respectively. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess potential DHPC- and drug-related determinants of media coverage. Results: 41 (10.6%) DHPC safety issues were covered in newspaper articles. Newspaper coverage was associated with drugs without a specialist indication [adjusted odds ratio 5.32; 95% confidence interval (2.64–10.73)]. Negative associations were seen for time since market approval [3–5 years 0.30; (0.11–0.82), 6–11 years 0.18; (0.06–0.58)] and year of the DHPC [0.88; (0.81–0.96)]. In the social media, 180 (81.8%) drugs mentioned in 220 DHPCs were covered. Social media coverage was associated with drugs without a specialist indication [6.92; (1.56–30.64)], and for DHPCs communicating clinical safety issues [5.46; (2.03–14.66)]. Conclusions: Newspapers covered a small proportion of DHPC safety issues only. Most drugs mentioned in DHPCs were covered in social media. Coverage in both media were higher for drugs without a specialist indication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-690
Number of pages14
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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