Pharmacoepidemiology combines the sciences of pharmacology and epidemiology. Pharmacology is the study of the effects of medications in patients by using utilizing pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic parameters to predict the effect of a medication on a patient. Epidemiology is the study of factors that determine the occurrence and distribution of diseases in populations. Epidemiologists study how much disease is within a specific area, who gets the disease and risk factors for disease development.
By combining the sciences of pharmacology and epidemiology, a pharmacoepidemiology researcher applies epidemiology principles to study the effects of medications in human populations. The ability to use epidemiologic research models to investigate the effects of medications has been fostered by the advancement of informatics in the health-care system.
There are large health-care databases that are being utilized to conduct pharmacoepidemiologic research. Through health-care databases, COPS researchers can evaluate the use of a medication in a large population and study the effect of a medication over time.
West-Strum D. Chapter 1. Introduction to Pharmacoepidemiology. In: Yang Y, West-Strum D. eds. Understanding Pharmacoepidemiology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011.