An adverse event (AE) is any untoward medical occurrence in a patient or clinical investigation subject administered a pharmaceutical product and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with this treatment. An adverse event can therefore be any unfavourable and unintended sign (including an abnormal laboratory finding), symptom, or disease temporally associated with the use of a medicinal (investigational) product, whether or not related to the medicinal (investigational) product.
AEs in patients participating in clinical trials must be reported to the study sponsor and if required could be reported to the local ethics committee. Adverse events categorized as "serious" (results in death, illness requiring hospitalization, events deemed life-threatening, results in persistent or significant incapacity, a congenital anomaly, birth defect or medically important condition) must be reported to the regulatory authorities immediately, whereas non-serious adverse events are merely documented in the annual summary sent to the regulatory authority.
The sponsor collects AE reports from the local researchers, and notifies all participating sites of the AEs at the other sites, as well as both the local investigators' and the sponsors' judgment of the seriousness of the AEs. This process allows the sponsor and all the local investigators access to a set of data that might suggest potential problems with the study treatment while the study is still ongoing.
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