Research article of interest – May 2013

“Web-scale pharmacovigilance: listening to signals from the crowd”

Research article from White et al, demonstrates the potential value of using patient internet search behaviour as an additional signal for pharmacovigilance.

The tested hypothesis was that internet users provide early clues about adverse drug events via their online health-seeking search activity. The study looked at the specific drug pairing of paroxetine and pravastatin, whose interaction was reported to be associated with hyperglycemia. The study used online logs from 2010, prior to the interaction being reported, to exclude the influence of the association on the search activity. Evidence was sought for the increase of hyperglycemia-related terms within the specific search context of one of the drugs or the drug pair. The study found that anonymized signals on drug interactions can be mined from search logs. The conclusion was strengthened by looking at 31 additional drug pairs that are known to interact and cause hyperglycemia.

White, R.W., Tatonetti, N.P., Shah, N.H., Altman, R.B., Horvitz, E., (2013) J Am Med Inform Assoc, 20(3):404-408

Full paper: [Europe PMC]