Caveat medicus: Clinician experiences in publishing reports of serious oncology-associated adverse drug reactions

Charles L. Bennett, Benjamin Schooley, Matthew A. Taylor, Bartlett J. Witherspoon, Ashley Godwin, Jayanth Vemula, Henry C. Ausdenmoore, Oliver Sartor, Y. Tony Yang, James O. Armitage, William J. Hrushesky, John Restaino, Henrik S. Thomsen, Paul R. Yarnold, Terence Young, Kevin B. Knopf, Brian Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Oncology-associated adverse drug/device reactions can be fatal. Some clinicians who treat single patients with severe oncology-associated toxicities have researched case series and published this information. We investigated motivations and experiences of select individuals leading such efforts. Clinicians treating individual patients who developed oncology-associated serious adverse drug events were asked to participate. Inclusion criteria included having index patient information, reporting case series, and being collaborative with investigators from two National Institutes of Health funded pharmacovigilance networks. Thirty-minute interviews addressed investigational motivation, feedback from pharmaceutical manufacturers, FDA personnel, and academic leadership, and recommendations for improving pharmacovigilance. Responses were analyzed using constant comparative methods of qualitative analysis. Overall, 18 clinicians met inclusion criteria and 14 interviewees are included. Primary motivations were scientific curiosity, expressed by six clinicians. A less common theme was public health related (three clinicians). Six clinicians received feedback characterized as supportive from academic leaders, while four clinicians received feedback characterized as negative. Three clinicians reported that following the case series publication they were invited to speak at academic institutions worldwide. Responses from pharmaceutical manufacturers were characterized as negative by 12 clinicians. One clinician’s wife called the post-reporting time the “Maalox month,” while another clinician reported that the manufacturer collaboratively offered to identify additional cases of the toxicity. Responses from FDA employees were characterized as collaborative for two clinicians, neutral for five clinicians, unresponsive for negative by six clinicians. Three clinicians endorsed developing improved reporting mechanisms for individual physicians, while 11 clinicians endorsed safety activities that should be undertaken by persons other than a motivated clinician who personally treats a patient with a severe adverse drug/ device reaction. Our study provides some of the first reports of clinician motivations and experiences with reporting serious or potentially fatal oncology-associated adverse drug or device reactions. Overall, it appears that negative feedback from pharmaceutical manufacturers and mixed feedback from the academic community and/or the FDA were reported. Big data, registries, Data Safety Monitoring Boards, and pharmacogenetic studies may facilitate improved pharmacovigilance efforts for oncology-associated adverse drug reactions. These initiatives overcome concerns related to complacency, indifference, ignorance, and system-level problems as barriers to documenting and reporting adverse drug events- barriers that have been previously reported for clinician reporting of serious adverse drug reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0219521
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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