These days clinical trials and post-approval reporting systems are used to spot the side effects of drugs. Clinical trials are limited in time and scope, while persuading patients to diligently report any adverse events when they’re on a new medication is a major challenge. Researchers at Carlos III Universidad de Madrid (UC3M) are now using social media as a self-reporting tool that can help spot previously unnoticed drug side effects.
The team is parsing through comments users leave in social media venues using a tool based on MeaningCloud, a product of Daedalus (Madrid, Spain). It reads through the comments and distills some basic pieces of information from the natural text. This data is then fed into the TrendMiner software package which can help find correlations within the data. This data can also be cross referenced against electronic medical records to discover even more useful information that can help identify side effects, drug incompatibilities, and other problems that can help refine how the drugs are prescribed.
Here are the researchers describing their work: