Improving the effect of FDA-mandated drug safety alerts with Internet-based continuing medical education.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires risk communication as an element of Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) to alert and educate healthcare providers about severe toxicities associated with approved drugs. The educational effectiveness of this approach has not been evaluated. To support the communication plan element of the ipilimumab REMS, a Medscape Safe Use Alert (SUA) letter was distributed by Medscape via email and mobile device distribution to clinicians specified in the REMS. This alert contained the FDA-approved Dear Healthcare Provider (DHCP) letter mandated for distribution. A continuing medical education (CME) activity describing ipilimumab toxicities and the appropriate management was simultaneously posted on the website and distributed to Medscape members. Data were collected over a 6-month period regarding the handling of the letter and the responses to pre- and post-test questions for those who participated in the CME activity. Analysis of the answers to the pre- and posttest questions showed that participation in the CME activity resulted in an improvement in correct answer responses of 47%. Our experience shows that there are likely distinct information sources that are utilized by different HCP groups. The ready availability of a brief CME activity was utilized by 24,063 individuals, the majority of whom showed enhanced understanding of ipilimumab toxicity by improvement in post-test scores, educational data that are not available via implementation of standard safety alert communications. These results demonstrate that improvement in understanding of specific drug toxicities is enhanced by a CME intervention.