EHRs could help determine drug repurposing opportunities, says study


Electronic health records proved useful in finding an association between a diabetes drug and a decrease in mortality among a cohort of cancer patients, suggesting patient and drug data in EHRs can help determine second uses of pharmaceuticals, according to a study in the Journal of the American Informatics Association.

Researchers connected EHR systems from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., to compile a cohort of 111,673 adult cancer patients. Researchers then identified a sub-cohort of patients with type 2 diabetes and analyzed the effect a diabetes drug, metformin, had on all-cause mortality.

After controlling for age, diagnosis, comorbidities and other factors, results showed a 22 percent reduction in mortality among patients taking metformin at a 95 percent confidence level. Researchers conclude using EHR data is an efficient and inexpensive way of determining if a drug might have a second purpose.

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