Drug safety is, of course, one of the central concerns of any drug development project. Right from the start, project teams want to know whether the target they are interested in has any links to adverse events. Or, when they get to lead series or lead compound, is there any evidence that similar compounds or compound classes have been shown to have side effects. If unexpected adverse events occur in clinical trials, again, project teams turn to literature and other sources to see if they can unearth a reason, mechanism, other evidence for this effect. And of course, post-market, pharmaceutical companies must regularly screen the worldwide scientific literature for potential adverse drug reactions, at least every two weeks.
Finding useful information from public sources can be daunting. There are so many different names for any particular gene target, or compound, or disease process, adverse event, side effect. Comprehensive search means using strings and strings of key words. And of course, what is really needed is evidence that a compound is causing an effect, not treating the disease. So, again, key word search doesn’t work well. And then, there are so many different data sources to search.