Pharmacovigilance follow-up of patients in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic - 07/02/23
the French Pharmacovigilance Network
In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, a national pharmacovigilance survey was set up in March 2020. The purpose of this survey was to ensure continuous monitoring of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in patients with COVID-19, not only related to the drugs used in this indication but also related to all drugs administered to these patients or suspected of having promoted the infection.
Material and methods
This descriptive study was based on data extracted from the French Pharmacovigilance Database from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2021. Misuse was also analysed through the MESANGE project. The ADRs were classified according to three groups: “drugs used to treat COVID-19”, “other drugs administered to COVID-19 positive patients” and “drugs suspected of having promoted COVID-19”. The data were also presented according to 2 periods (period one was from January to June 2020 and period two from July 2020 onwards).
Among 2189 included cases, 67.1% were serious. Cases were mainly related to “other drugs administrated to COVID-19 positive patients” (58.5%) followed by “drugs used to treat COVID-19” (33.7%) and “drugs suspected of having promoted COVID-19” (7.8%). Drugs used to treat COVID-19 and their main safety profile were different depending on the period: mostly hydroxychloroquine (51%) with heart injury and lopinavir/ritonavir (42%) with liver injury for the first period, and dexamethasone (46%) with hyperglycemia and tocilizumab (28%) with liver injury for the second period. The drugs suspected of worsening COVID-19 differed in both periods especially for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs mainly reported in period 1 (41.5% versus 8.2% in period 2). Other immunosuppressive drugs were in the majority in the second period (85.7%), with mainly methotrexate (15.3%), anti-CD20 (15.3%) and anti-TNF alpha (10.5%). No confirmed safety signal was identified among other drugs administered to patients with COVID-19. The profile of ADRs and suspected drugs was similar between the 2 periods. The study of misuse in outpatient settings identified in both periods mainly hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, ivermectin and zinc±vitamin C.
This survey, based on real-time pharmacological and medical assessment of ADRs and weekly meetings in a specific national committee, made it possible to identify relevant safety signals which contribute to patient care with no delay. The main safety signal highlighted was serious cardiac damage under hydroxychloroquine, alone or combined with azithromycin and also with lopinavir/ritonavir. This signal has contributed to the evolution of the recommendations for these 2 drugs. The methodology of this survey has been taken over and is still going on for the pharmacovigilance monitoring of vaccines against COVID-19, for monoclonal antibodies used against COVID-19 and also for Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) which benefit from dedicated surveys.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Pharmacovigilance survey, Drug safety, COVID-19
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