Jerry Avorn


Jerry Avorn, MD, is the Founder and Chief Emeritus of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics in the Department of Medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. An internist, geriatrician, and drug epidemiologist, he studies the intended and adverse effects of prescription drugs, physician prescribing practices, and medication policy.

His major areas of research have included: the scientific, policy, and social factors that shape physicians’ prescribing choices; the identification and prevention of adverse drug effects; medication compliance by patients; programs to improve the appropriateness of prescribing and drug taking; and pharmaceutical cost and policy analysis. Dr. Avorn’s group was among the first to employ large-scale medication claims and clinical data to study drug use and outcomes; he also pioneered the “academic detailing” approach to continuing medical education, in which non-commercial, evidence-based information about drugs is provided to doctors through outreach programs. Activities based on this work are now in place in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe.

Dr. Avorn did his undergraduate training at Columbia University in 1969, received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1974, and completed a residency in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He has served as president of the International Society for Pharmaco-Epidemiology and was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Standards for Developing Trustworthy Clinical Practice Guidelines. Dr. Avorn is the author or co-author of over 600 papers in the medical literature on medication use and its outcomes and is one of the most highly-cited researchers working in the area of medicine and the social sciences. His book, Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs, was published by Knopf in 2004 and is now in its eleventh printing.