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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

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

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)

Trends in prescribing and costs of medicines.

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)