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ICES part of national network evaluating drug safety

October 31, 2011 Toronto

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is part of a national initiative that will provide crucial information on the effectiveness and safety of new drugs that come onto the market in Canada. More than 60 Canadian researchers working in seven provinces are involved in the Canadian Network for Observational Drug Effect Studies (CNODES), which will use linked health care data collected by provincial ministries of health to evaluate post-market drug safety and effectiveness.

“For years researchers at ICES have carried out research into the safety and effectiveness of drugs that are covered by the Ontario Drug Benefit Program. This collaboration, funded by Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, enables the provinces and participating research centres to carry out studies that were not possible previously. It will enable us to study very rare but serious side effects, drug effects in children and the extent to which drug effects vary in particular patient populations, over time and according to drug type and dose,” says Michael Paterson, the Ontario CNODES lead and ICES Scientist.

The objectives of the CNODES include:

  • Establishing a network of centres across Canada that can rapidly assess beneficial and harmful effects of new drugs in the entire population
  • Generate data that will guide doctors and patients and enable safer drug use
  • Provide information that can be used to regulate the use of medicines in Canada (for instance by identifying patient groups at high risk of particular adverse effects)
  • Building capacity in drug safety and effectiveness research by actively engaging trainees, new investigators, and researchers from complementary disciplines
  • Fostering sharing of information between researchers and end-users (including provincial policymakers)

“There are a number of important features of this unique collaboration,” says Dr. David Henry, ICES CEO and lead of the CNODES Database Team. “This is a distributed network, which means that the data analyses are carried out locally at the participating provincial research centres, and then results are combined to give pooled Canadian estimates. The data remain in the provinces, where they belong. No provincial data will cross borders. CNODES offers an opportunity to coordinate access to these data resources and use them to answer significant research questions for the health of all Canadians.”

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

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