A Day in the Life of a Data Minion

Ever wonder what magic is happening behind the scenes at AdverseEvents? What goes into the process of data management before it shows up in your inbox, or you receive an email alert about breaking news in pharmacovigilance with data supplied by your favorite drug safety information specialists? Well, there’s a lot. And although it is not all glamorous, we tend to have fun doing it.

Every morning, we get to the office at 7 am (or 6:30 am, or sometimes our Tech team never leaves at all…). We make coffee. We patrol FDA websites, filter through pharmacovigilance media outlets, and scour academic journals for the most recent findings on drug side effects. In effect, we dive right in. And we love it. Except for the instances where we Google obscure medical terms, only to find unsightly images that are impossible to forget. We’ll leave those out of this blog post, in consideration of your well-being.

Are the FOIA request date ranges the same across the entire drug class in our database? Is the drug manufacturer listed in the requested drug report? Has the drug manufacturer been acquired by a new company? Is the manufacturer of the drug different from the marketer of the drug? Which drugs have the same indications, drug class, and mechanism of action for a new drug approval comparison, so we can give our clients a valid comparable safety profile? Does the FOIA data match with the Quarterly release of FAERS data? How many discrepancies are there, and why? How many ways can we find to organize these data as much as possible so they can be useful to our clients?

In short, our analyst and tech teams clean up the amalgam of FAERS quarterly releases and special FOIA requests. Every day. And we keep coming back.

Read our January FOIA Report findings

We ensure our analytics are thorough. We contemplate new ways to display our results in a more attractive manner. Which analytics are best in terms of validity and reliability? Were the clinical trial methods sound? What were the demographics, comorbidities, and diagnoses of the patient populations? Are these side effects a manifestation of the disease being treated, a sign of drug ineffectiveness, or an actual adverse reaction to the medication? Is the high ROR value due to the AE being serious, or is the term simply extremely rare in our database?

If you were to visit our office in Santa Rosa, you would be able to infer we were grinding through coding, uploading, and updating freshly released FAERS quarterly data due to the nearly complete lack of talking for multiple days. Other times we banter back and forth about why the FDA took so long to release quarterly data, debate whether the newly approved drug should be categorized in a different therapeutic classification, and look forward to the ever-elusive day when our dataset will be complete. Looks like our employer picked the right group, because instead of dampening our enthusiasm, these kinds of things actually motivate us. The small victories in big data keep our gears turning, pushing us forward, as we are able to sift through such miniscule incongruities because we can see the larger picture.

Why? Because we are professional Data Minions, and this is what our analysts specialize in here at AdverseEvents. We know that seeing the bigger picture translates to helping Healthcare Decision Makers make more informed decisions, in effect reducing the rate of adverse drug reactions. We get irked at the tiny discrepancies in data points or FDA alerts that the overwhelming majority of people would never care to notice, because we know all of these differences added up affect the outcome of our product, which we prize. We are meticulous. We are diligent. And we are extremely nerdy about it.

Our analyst team does all of this to ensure the integrity of our database, and there is never enough time for us to work on everything that we want to achieve. Our tasks are dense, time-consuming, and at times, monotonous. But these are aspects that combine to form a solid foundation, and we have the capability, drive, and enthusiasm to continue building.

Check out all of our hardwork in our Resource Center.



Andrea Demakas

Andrea Demakas

Product Specialist

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Topics: Drug Safety, FAERS

Andrea Demakas

Written by Andrea Demakas