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Search Engines Offer Key Insights into Drug Side Effects and Interactions

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The internet continues to play a key role in almost every aspect of our lives, now it has even began helping in the detection of drug side effects before the FDA. From analyzing the queries of popular search engines, it can potentially help reveal medical risks that were undetected in clinical trials.

In 2010, researchers looked into queries relating to Paroxentine, an antidepressant and pravastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug and concluded that taking the two together resulted in higher blood sugar. People who were googling “Paroxentine and Pravastatin” helped them determine that these two had some sort of correlation. One in ten of the people who used a search engine also searched for hypoglycemia as well.  Researchers then found that in 81% of time, people were likely to become hypoglycemic while taking the drug combination based off the searches. These data mining techniques are similar to the ways that Google compiles its flu trends, which has been a useful warning to the public.

Some scientists are now pressing Google and other resources, like Bing and Yahoo, to monitor these kinds of searches then send them to the FDA for further investigation. Although bio-medical professionals are unsure of how much these observations will help, they do want to explore the usefulness of data mining.

Typically, the FDA receives this kind of drug side-effect information through the Adverse Event Reporting System, which only contains reports from doctors, not patients. The reach of this of data is limited, because all of the symptoms which are reported are that of the doctor’s observations. If you have been the victim of a drug’s side effect, make sure to contact an attorney who can hold the right people accountable, and get you the compensation you deserve.

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