Background: Post-marketing pharmaceutical surveillance, a.k.a. pragmatic clinical trials (i.e., PCT), plays a vital role in preventing accidents in practical treatment. The most important and difficult task in PCT is to assess which drug causes adverse reactions (i.e., ADRs) from clinical texts. The confounding (i.e., factors cause confusions in causality assessment) is generated by the polypharmacy (i.e., multiple drugs use), which makes most of existing methods poor for detecting drugs that capably cause observed ADRs.
Objective: We aim to improve the performance of detecting drug-ADR causal relations from clinical texts. To this end, a mechanism for reducing the impact of confounding on the detecting process is needful. Methods: We proposed a novel model which is called the analogy-based active voting (i.e., AAV) for improving the ability of detecting causal drug-ADR pairs, in case multiple drugs are prescribed for treating the comorbidity. This model is inspired by the analogy principle which was proposed by Bradford Hill. Results: The experimental results show the improvement of recognizing causal relations between drugs and ADRs that are confirmed by the SIDER. In addition, the proposed model is promising to detect infrequently observed causal drug-ADR pairs when the drug is not commonly used. Conclusion: The proposed model demonstrates its ability for controlling the polypharmacy-induced confounding, to improve the quality of causality assessment of ADRs. Additionally, this also shows that the analogy principle is applicable for the assessment.