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    Pharmacoepidemiology: Scrutinizing drug safety in dermatology

    Pharmacoepidemiology has timely significance for dermatologists, given recent national publicity focused on the association of isotretinoin with suicide and lymphoma with psoriasis, according to Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., M.S.C.E., University of Pennsylvania Health System's department of dermatology.

    Dr. Gelfand says many adverse drug reactions are not detected prior to drug approval because they are statistically rare.

    He cites the reported association of isotretinoin with suicide. He says isotretinoin has been used by more than 12 million people worldwide, and that due to the widespread use of this medication, one would expect by pure coincidence to observe suicides, given that suicide is the third most common cause of death in patients in the age group commonly prescribed the drug.

    He adds that pharmacoepidemiology can also be used to discover novel indications for medications.

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