Internet Medicine: Can It Forecast Your Side-Effects?

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Can the internet provide more insight than your doctor on problematic drug use and side-effects?

 A small team from New York and Jerusalem researched and collected more than 10 years of medical information and real life patient stories from medical forums found online. They say their algorithm could have detected bad reactions not uncovered by clinical trials, years before they came to the attention of the US Food and Drug Administration.

“Social media is like an almost infinite-sized focus group,” says Oded Netzer, a project team member at Columbia University in New York City. We are a fly on the wall, listening to what consumers and patients are saying.” Drugs and medical devices sometimes have unexpected side effects, even after testing in lengthy studies.

For example, the antidepressant Wellbutrin – which had its label amended in 2009 to include warnings about agitation and hostility as possible side effects – would have been discovered earlier by utilizing the algorithm from internet experiences. Red more about it [here] .

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