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Web Searches Can Help Discover Adverse Effects of Prescription Drugs

Written by Ankin Law Office

According to the NY Times, scientists at Microsoft, Stanford and Columbia University were able to detect – for the first time – evidence of unreported prescription drug side effects before they were found by the Food and Drug Administration’s warning system by using data drawn from queries entered into Google, Microsoft and Yahoo search engines.

Using automated software tools to analyze search queries by six million Internet users extracted from Web search logs in 2010, the researchers looked for searches relating to paroxetine, an antidepressant, and pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug, and 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 last week, relies on data-mining techniques similar to those used by health services like Google Flu Trends, which has been used to provide the public with early warnings about illness trends.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently requests information regarding adverse events, including drug side effects, from physicians, but the scope of the FDA’s adverse event system is limited to data that is noticed and reported by doctors.

By analyzing Internet search data, the researchers discovered that people who conducted Internet searches for both paroxetine and pravastatin during a 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. The researchers also discovered that people who searched the Internet for information regarding symptoms related to both drugs were likely to do the searches in a short time period, with 30 percent doing the search on the same day, 40 percent doing the search during the same week, and 50 percent doing the search in the same month.

The researchers are encouraged by the “signals” that were detected in the searches and maintain that the automated search technology could be a beneficial addition to the FDA’s current system for tracking adverse events.

It you have been injured as a result of a drug interaction, you may have a possible medical malpractice or product liability claim. Lawsuits involving drug interactions involve complex legal theories and require detailed medical information regarding the patient’s medical history, the medications prescribed, and the safeness of the medication.

The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC focus on representing the victims of medical malpractice and unsafe pharmaceuticals and we understand the complex legal issues involved. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a drug interaction, contact the skilled and knowledgeable Chicago drug interaction attorneys at Ankin Law Offices at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about a possible drug interaction malpractice claim.

Categories: Medical Malpractice