International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology and Therapeutic Risk Management – Montreal Aug 2017

11 Sep 2017

Sam Wilkinson & Ian Douglas


Sam’s thoughts:

As a new student of pharmacoepidemiology- and a first-time attendee of ICPE- I was initially overwhelmed. All the sessions seemed relevant and interesting, and the first challenge was to use the time efficiently. By the end though, I felt encouraged. My research focuses on Type 2 Diabetes drugs, and I spent most of my time attending presentations or viewing posters of closely related work. I was inspired hearing from numerous researchers approaching similar questions, tackling the same challenges, and working towards a common goal. Next year I’ll muster the courage to ask a question!

Though I have heard the phrase ‘less is more’ when designing an academic poster- ICPE put this into context. There were hundreds of posters to view, and reading them all in the lunch break was impossible. For me, the best posters used large fonts, simple designs and less information.  The boldest provided only the briefest of summaries, printing only one or two lines of information (they supplied a handout with full details). These posters were easy to peruse, and if you were interested you could take away a handout. Something to remember for next time.

Ian’s thoughts:

Last month 10 of us headed off to Montreal for The International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology – always a highlight of the year for me. It’s a great chance to catch up with others working in the field and to find out more about recent developments, new directions and possible collaborations to work towards. It’s also one of the few times that people from industry, government and academia get together on a large scale. Of course, each has their own agenda shaping their choice of specific research areas, but I find it heartening to see such a diverse community with a largely common goal of improving health through the safe use of medicines. And, let’s be honest, there are worse places to be in August than Montreal – a great, vibrant North American city!

One of the nice things about the conference is the unexpected discovery of people working on things we’re also currently thinking about. There were many of these over the conference, but I’m going to pick out one as it involves a study design we use a lot. A symposium I went to was promoting formal guidance for the conduct and reporting of studies using self controlled methods. This means designs like the case crossover and self controlled case series. An internationally collaborative team from Harvard, the Open University, University of Southern Denmark and Toronto University are proposing a comprehensive check list for users of these designs. If such a list were to be published alongside studies using these designs, it would help those of us reading them to see how the data for the study fit the important assumptions that underpinning the methods. The word count limits for journals mean it’s not easy to explain these subtle but important aspects of study design in a typical manuscript, but this detail really helps when assessing how robust a study’s findings are. Even more importantly the check list should be really useful before we even do a study to make us think through each method assumption and whether they hold for the study we have in mind. Looking forward to seeing this work published soon.