Detection and interpretation of adverse signals during preclinical and clinical stages of drug development inform the benefit-risk assessment that determines suitability for use in real-world situations. This review considers some recent signals associated with diabetes therapies, illustrating the difficulties in ascribing causality and evaluating absolute risk, predictability, prevention, and containment. Individual clinical trials are necessarily restricted for patient selection, number, and duration; they can introduce allocation and ascertainment bias and they often rely on biomarkers to estimate long-term clinical outcomes. In diabetes, the risk perspective is inevitably confounded by emergent comorbid conditions and potential interactions that limit therapeutic choice, hence the need for new therapies and better use of existing therapies to address the consequences of protracted glucotoxicity. However, for some therapies, the adverse effects may take several years to emerge, and it is evident that faint initial signals under trial conditions cannot be expected to foretell all eventualities. Thus, as information and experience accumulate with time, it should be accepted that benefit-risk deliberations will be refined, and adjustments to prescribing indications may become appropriate.
Bibliographical note© 2013 by the American Diabetes Association.
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