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What is Pharmacoepidemiology?

Pharmacoepidemiology examines the use and effects of medicines in large populations. In the field of cancer, pharmacoepidemiology examines the effects of medications on cancer risk, disease prevention, and response to treatments, as well as any adverse and/or long-term effects of chemotherapeutic and other pharmacologic agents used to treat cancer.

The population over 65 years in Ireland is increasing and is expected to increase to 15% by 2021 from a current level of 11%. This increase has consequences for health services with increases in disease prevalence and use of pharmaceuticals generally. It is predicted that the use of pharmaceuticals will increase by 39% from 2007-2020 if only demographic changes are considered (

Research Areas

Cancer Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics (CAPPE)

The Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Trinity College, in conjunction with the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) and National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) has set up a research group working in the area of Cancer Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics (CAPPE). Research in this area is funded by the Irish Cancer Society and Health Research Board (project and Interdisciplinary capacity enhancement, ICE awards).

More on Cancer Pharmacoepidemiology

Drug Utilisation

Trends in prescribing and costs of medicines.

Population Health

Use of medicines in large populations including the prescribing in the elderly in relation to polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate prescribing. Prescribing for osteoporosis, and comparing treatments for diabetes across Northern and Republic of Ireland. (Funders: HRB)

Health Services Research

Examining adherence to medication in a range of medical areas (breast cancer, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis), development of interventions for adherence (breast cancer); patient surveys on perception of disease and associated treatments (breast cancer, diabetes); prescriber feedback studies (cluster randomised trials) (Funders HRB, EU FP7).


Cost-effectiveness of CVD treatments; costs of adherence in osteoporosis; costs of medicines on all community drug schemes (High Tech, GMS and LTI/DPS). HTA in the field of Cancer Care.

The research group has expertise in statistics, epidemiology, health services research, pharmacology, economics, and pharmacy.



  • NCRI - data linkage studies. Cancer pharmacoepidemiology; interventions for medication adherence in cancer. Dr Sharp is a cancer epidemiologist at the national cancer registry and is PI and co-PI on a number of related research grants as well as co-supervising PhD students.
  • HRB HSR PhD scholars programme - joint initiative between UCC, RCSI and TCD
  • RCSI - HRB Primary care centre (Prof Tom Fahey)
  • TILDA - The Irish Longitudinal Study of Aging


  • John Hopkins University - Baltimore, USA Prof Visvanathan
  • ENCEPP - European centres for pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacovigilence (EMEA)
  • McGill University, Canada. Prof Samy Suissa and Dr Laurent Azoulay.
  • Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • University of Porto Medical School, Portugal

Research Resources

  • HSE-PCRS prescribing pharmacy claims database (
  • National cancer registry Ireland (NCRI) (
  • Linked HSE-PCRS and NCRI databases
  • International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology (
  • TILDA (; data available through ISSDA archives)

News and Events

The first Irish Cancer Pharmacoepidemiology Symposium was organised in Dublin in September 2013. Irish and International speakers were invited to present their research. The symposium was generously funded by the HRB.

Click for full programme


Dr Kathleen Bennett, Associate Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology is employed as an epidemiologist/biostatistician.

Dr Ian Barron, Post-doctoral Research fellow has a PhD in Pharmacoepidemiology, Trinity College Dublin, MSc in Hospital Pharmacy (TCD) and a BSc(Pharmacy) . Dr Barron’s primary research interest is cancer pharmacoepidemiology.

Dr Caitriona Cahir, Post-doctoral Research fellow holds a HRB Scholars PhD in Health Services Research from the Division of Population Health Sciences, RCSI and is now working on a HRB ICE project.

Dr Laura McCullagh, Post-doctoral Research fellow is a graduate (First Class Hons.) of the Sunderland School of Pharmacy. Laura obtained her PhD from Trinity College in 2012 and in February 2012, was appointed to the post of HRB ICE Fellow in the School of Medicine.

Dr Laura Currie-Murphy, Postdoctoral Research fellow funded as part of a large Irish cancer Society collaborative cancer research centre BREAST-PREDICT.

PhD students
Ms Miriam O’Shea
Ms Susan Spillane
Ms Eva Flahavan

Lay Abstracts


  • PhD and MSc students in pharmacoepidemiology.
  • Undergraduate medical student projects (second year)
  • MSc Pharmaceutical medicine module on Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmacovigilence.

Last updated 21 September 2016 (Email).