Unreported Side Effects of Drugs Are Found Using Internet Search Data, Study Finds - NYTimes.com
Using automated software tools to examine queries by six million Internet users taken from Web search logs in 2010, the researchers looked for searches relating to an antidepressant, paroxetine, and a cholesterol lowering drug, pravastatin. They were able to find evidence that the combination of the two drugs caused high blood sugar.
The study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association on Wednesday, is based on data-mining techniques similar to those employed by services like Google Flu Trends, which has been used to give early warning of the prevalence of the sickness to the public.
L’article original ( abstract seulement) Web-scale pharmacovigilance: listening to signals from the crowd ▻http://jamia.bmj.com/content/early/2013/02/05/amiajnl-2012-001482.abstract
He turned to computer scientists at Microsoft, who created software for scanning anonymized data collected from a software toolbar installed in Web browsers by users who permitted their search histories to be collected. The scientists were able to explore 82 million individual searches for drug, symptom and condition information.
The researchers first identified individual searches for the terms paroxetine and pravastatin, as well as searches for both terms, in 2010. They then computed the likelihood that users in each group would also search for hyperglycemia as well as roughly 80 of its symptoms — words or phrases like “high blood sugar” or “blurry vision.”
They determined that people who searched for both drugs during the 12-month period were significantly more likely to search for terms related to hyperglycemia than were those who searched for just one of the drugs. (About 10 percent, compared with 5 percent and 4 percent for just one drug.)
The researchers said they were surprised by the strength of the “signal” that they detected in the searches and argued that it would be a valuable tool for the F.D.A. to add to its current system for tracking adverse effects.
“I think there are tons of drug-drug interactions — that’s the bad news,” Dr. Altman said. “The good news is we also have ways to evaluate the public health impact.