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.