14-Mar-13 1:00 PM  CST

Internet Search Data Reveals Many Unreported Side Effects

Recently, scientists at Microsoft, Stanford, and Columbia University have been able to detect unreported side effects of prescription drugs according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 
Scientists in the study used automated software tools that looked at six million Internet users.  The web searches were taken from logs in 2010 related to searches on the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) and pravastatin which is a cholesterol drug used to lower cholesterol levels.  Scientists discovered from report searches that the combo of these two drugs caused high blood sugar.  Unfortunately, not all side effects are reported to the FDA either by consumers or doctors.  The FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System can only catch side effects if the errors and adverse events are reported via their system.
Russ B. Altman, M.D., PhD, and chairman of Stanford University’s bioengineering department and his team of scientists have researched whether it is possible to automate the search discoveries of drug interactions which would use particular software to search Food and Drug Administration reports.  Altman recently commented on the study.  “Seeking health information is a major use of the Internet now.  So we thought people are likely typing in drugs they are taking and the side effects they are experiencing and that there must be a way for us to use this data,” said Altman.        
Pharmacy technicians can encourage patients to report side effects to their pharmacist and to the FDA.  If more individuals would report side effects to their pharmacy or to the FDA then more strides can be made in improving patient safety. 
1.  Williams, Sarah, C.P.  “Mining Consumers Web Searches Can Reveal Unreported Side Effects of Drugs, Researchers Say.”  Stanford School of Medicine Press Release.  Web.  6 Mar 2013.      
2.  Silverman, Ed.  “Internet Search Data Finds Unreported Side Effects.”  Pharmalot. Web.  7 Mar 2013. 
3.  Markoff, John. “Unreported Side Effects of Drugs are Found Using Internet Search Data, Study Finds.”  NY Times.  Web.  6 Mar 2013.      

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Jennifer S. O'Reilly
Source: NPTAnews  

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