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Internet searches can identify drug safety issues well ahead of public alerts
Date:3/6/2013

more terms associated with high blood sugar over the 12 months.

These differences in search patterns were evident across the whole period of the study, and were not influenced by public information as the discovery of the interaction between this particular pair of drugs was only made in 2011.

Analysis of other 31 drug pair interactions associated with high blood sugar also indicated similar patterns, suggesting that the value of log analysis is not just confined to paroxetine and pravastatin.

"There is a potential public health benefit in listening to such signals, and integrating them with other sources of information," write the authors. "We see a potentially valuable signal, even though search logs are unstructured, not necessarily related to health, and can include any words entered by users," they add.

And they conclude: "We believe that patient search behaviour directly captures aspects of patients' concerns about sensed [symptoms] and can complement more traditional sources of data for pharmacovigilance [drug safety monitoring]."


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Contact: Emma Dickinson
edickinson@bmjgroup.com
44-020-738-36529
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Source:Eurekalert

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