Using search data to find drug side effects

Posted to Statistics  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

Along the same lines as Google Flu Trends, researchers at Microsoft, Stanford and Columbia University are investigating whether search data can be used to find interactions between drugs. They recently found an interaction.

Using automated software tools to examine queries by six million Internet users taken from Web search logs in 2010, the researchers looked for searches relating to an antidepressant, paroxetine, and a cholesterol lowering drug, pravastatin. They were able to find evidence that the combination of the two drugs caused high blood sugar.

The idea is that people are searching for symptoms and medications, and this data is stored in anonymized search logs. They then followed a suspicion that using the two drugs at the same time might cause hyperglycemia. Those that searched for the two drugs were more likely to search for hyperglycemia than the control group (probably those who didn’t search for hyperglycemia).

The work is still in its infancy, but it’ll be interesting to see how this sort of data can be used to supplement existing work by the Food and Drug Administration.

Favorites

Best Data Visualization Projects of 2016

Here are my favorites for the year.

Marrying Age

People get married at various ages, but there are definite trends that vary across demographic groups. What do these trends look like?

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.

Who is Older and Younger than You

Here’s a chart to show you how long you have until you start to feel your age.