Friday, 12 June 2015


Pharmacovigilance communication: What are the public expectations? How should it look like? And what are the challenges?

Many might agree that we are living in an environment full of misleading, unreliable and inaccurate information. The internet, the fastest growing technology in our society, has been driven by the public’s hunger for fast, cheap communication. The modern patient appears to their medical practitioner with an internet diagnosis and treatment plan, obtained from a website with inaccurate or highly biased information. The internet provides an unparalleled opportunity to revolutionize medical education. The need for accurate, reliable and good quality information available on websites has become essential. With public forums and social media constant and immediate access to information, is no longer a “good to have” but a “need to have”.

There are a diverse number of tools used by the EU network to communicate with the public, some of those are the following;

•Direct healthcare professional communication (DHPC)
•Documents in lay language, e.g. Q&A
•Press communication
•Inter-authority communication
•Public enquiries
•Bulletins and newsletters
•Others, e.g. scientific journals etc.

Experts agree that is essential to involve all the players in a dialogue in order to achieve greater effectiveness in communicating drug safety issues through higher understanding of themselves and others. Building trust and a climate of openness is a fundamental key to competent communication. In a secretive environment, information would never be perceived as credible.

One of the main channels of communication are the Patient Information Leaflets (PILs). If the PIL looks attractive but still retains the use of poor language or the widespread use of technical terminology, again the opportunity to communicate with the patient will be lost. Clear language is already a legal requirement for PILs, as well as information being comprehensible and easily legible. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) puts all the patient information leaflets and factsheets available for the public in their website giving easy access for anyone to approach the information.

There are several challenges surrounding communication in PV. Currently, package leaflets must present a set of information in a particular order. However, frequently they do not meet the needs of patients. In particular, there is a need for larger flexibility in the way information for each medicine is presented

We can conclude that in a world stuffed with information, advertising and communication of all kinds, there are three essential principles to remember:

1. Is extremely difficult to get and hold anyone’s attention, clear, direct messages are a must.

2. One-way communication is no communication: Receiving significant feedback requires at least as much skill as preparing the initial communication. The communication cycle must be completed.

3. One-time communication is no communication: repetition is what makes a difference with preoccupied human beings.

For each audience and target group, we must identify the various channels through which they may be reached and use several of them, the more personalized the information is, the better.

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