I am heartened to present this November 2020 edition of Oviya MedSafe‘s newsletter (the 98th in the series since April 2012) which is destined to be drastically different from any of my previous missives because I will be more of a speaker rather than a writer in this issue. And, what more? My speech will be in a language other than English yet will of course be about our beloved Pharmacovigilance! But, why is this act even needed now and how does this help? Let us explore the background together before going to the content per se.
Throughout its history, Pharmacovigilance has (more often than not) been a possession of the Elite, although not intentionally so. Being a science that directly concerns the health of any person who takes a medicinal product anywhere in the world, it is obvious that the essence of Pharmacovigilance deserves to be taken to the masses with absolute clarity. In fact, making everyone of us comprehend that “even a good drug could do harm” without creating irrational fear of consuming any medicine at all is the primary responsibility of every conscientious Pharmacovigilante. I believe this could have been the idea behind Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) introducing the initiative of “MedSafety Week” a few years ago.
During the annual MedSafety Week, UMC teams up with drug regulatory authorities around the world to launch a concerted social media campaign with the hashtag #MedSafetyWeek, which raises awareness of adverse effects of medicines. By this campaign, UMC also aspires to enlighten the community at large about the Pharmacovigilance systems in place worldwide, thereby promoting recognition and reporting of suspected Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs). The 2020 campaign ran from 2nd to 8th November. It called on patients and healthcare professionals to report all side effects, especially those associated with new or experimental treatments. While UMC released attractive animations for the purpose, I began wondering how I could support the campaign with some original contribution to the cause. And, that is when I spontaneously decided to record a brief video on what Pharmacovigilance is, in Tamil (my mother tongue).
I did not have to struggle much to gain my foothold, thanks to Thiruvalluvar (a legendary philosopher who was born just about 2050 years ago), for my mention of the 504th couplet of his classic text “Thirukkural” was more than enough to set the context of my talk. The said couplet (Kural) strikingly illustrated the concept of benefit-risk assessment at a personal level and appeared no less synonymous with the same term when used in the Pharmacovigilance parlance as well. Please click on this link to watch my video and feel free to share it with all your friends and relatives who understand Tamil, regardless of whether they may be healthcare professionals or patients. The option of making an English version of this video is also being considered upon requests from some of my contacts and I hope I will be able to record it sometime soon.
I trust this attempt of mine will induce many of my fellow Pharmacovigilantes across the globe to spread the word of Pharmacovigilance in their respective mother tongues, so as to serve as an eye-opener to the fact that medicines do have adverse effects and that they should be approached with scientific rationale rather than with an emotional mindset. Such ground level changes could significantly augment the Pharmacovigilance Literacy levels of the population. Together, let us all do more like this in order to make ‘Pharmacovigilance’ a mainstream word for the good of the society around us!
On the business front, I am excited to share that Oviya MedSafe has been chosen as the exclusive global Pharmacovigilance partner for a clinical trial to be conducted by a EU-based biotech company for a novel therapeutic product for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)! While it is unusual for me to share specific updates on the business wins of Oviya MedSafe, this is indeed special because we are going to play an active role in solving a problem that emerged and grew in front of all our eyes to such a monumental proportion! I believe it is truly an opportunity for us to practice ‘Applied Pharmacovigilance‘ and I wish to express my sincere thanks to all of my colleagues at Oviya MedSafe for their respective roles in achieving this milestone.
On another note, November 2020 honoured me with the enviable opportunity of facilitating the publication of an unparalleled opinion piece ‘Enabling Real World Evidence (RWE) Studies in India‘ by Dr Arun Bhatt for the month’s edition of DIA’s Global Forum in my role as its Regional Editor for India. I felt greatly privileged at the fortune of having the veteran ‘Editor of Editors‘ as a guest author in an issue that credited me as an editor. And, as I was preparing to end my 2nd term in the role with this grand finale, DIA has pleasantly surprised me by offering a third consecutive term of 2 years (Jan 2021 to Dec 2022) which I have respectfully accepted. I earnestly aspire to produce more such articles relevant to India in future, with all of your support.
Before concluding, let me take the pleasure of wishing all of you and your families a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year 2021 in advance!
Eager to connect with you soon through December 2020 newsletter,
With thanks & regards,
Dr J Vijay Venkatraman
MBBS, F. Diab., MBA, FPIPA (UK)
Managing Director & CEO,
Oviya MedSafe Pvt Ltd,
Oviya MedSafe UK Ltd,