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Pharmacoepidemiology is the study of the utilization and effects of drugs in large numbers of people; it provides an estimate of the probability of beneficial effects of a drug in a population and the probability of adverse effects. It can be called a bridge science spanning both clinical pharmacology and epidemiology. Pharmacoepidemiology concentrates on clinical patient outcomes from therapeutics by using methods of clinical epidemiology and applying them to understanding the determinants of beneficial and adverse drug effects, effects of genetic variation on drug effect, duration-response relationships, clinical effects of drug-drug interactions, and the effects of medication non-adherence. Pharmacovigilance is a part of pharmacoepidemiology that involves continual monitoring, in a population, for unwanted effects and other safety concerns arising in drugs that are already on the market. Pharmacoepidemiology sometimes also involves the conduct and evaluation of programmatic efforts to improve medication use on a population basis.
Hopkins GIM faculty members have a growing presence in the field of pharmacoepidemiology. The Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins was launched in 2012 and is co-directed by general internists Jodi Segal, MD, MPH and G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, with Sonal Singh, MD, MPH as an Associate Director along with Kenneth Shermock, PharmD, PhD. The goal of the Center is to improve the safe and effective use of medications. Drawing on the combined expertise of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center serves as a nexus for individuals at Johns Hopkins who are involved in research, education, clinical programs and public service to improve prescription drug use and pharmaceutical policy in the United States and around the world. In addition to its work with trainees and junior faculty, the Center is actively initiating partnerships and collaborations with a variety of other stakeholders vested in addressing core problem areas ranging from prescription drug abuse to barriers to accessible and affordable medicines in developing countries.