Discovering Side Effects And Interactions

March 7, 2013

SearchYou’re probably familiar with the gag: the bottle of your [insert medication here] has a long list of side effects, and some of them are the same as the symptoms you’re trying to treat!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With all the drugs out there, there’s an almost uncountable number of possible interactions between drugs, with unknown side effects. On top of that, there’s many unconfirmed side effects, especially of newer drugs.

Microsoft, Stanford, and Columbia have worked together to data mine search queries, that is to say, they analyzed the data for searches that contained the names of two popular drugs (one heart medication and one antidepressant). They looked to see if people were searching for the same maladies in association with each drug, and in combination.

The results? Good evidence that the two drugs, when taken together, produce previously unknown side effects!

It will take a while, but if the FDA likes the method, it could produce a much longer list of side effects for popular drugs, as well possible side effects between drugs, so that patients are more safe when taking multiple medications.

That also means there will be more fine print to read through, more considerations when starting treatment for a mild or moderate illness. With news of many people delaying treatment of Hep C, more information may mean more people delaying other treatments.

Do you consider side effects before taking a medication, whether over-the-counter or prescribed?

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