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AI Google Medicine Science

Using Google To Help Predict Side Effects of Mixing Drugs 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the dr.-everyone dept.
sciencehabit writes "Pharmaceuticals often have side effects that go unnoticed until they're already available to the public. Doctors and even the FDA have a hard time predicting what drug combinations will lead to serious problems. But thanks to people scouring the web for the side effects of the drugs they're taking, researchers have now shown that Google and other search engines can be mined for dangerous drug combinations. In a new study, scientists tried the approach out on predicting hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. They found that the data-mining procedure correctly predicted whether a drug combo did or did not cause hypoglycemia about 81% of the time."
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Using Google To Help Predict Side Effects of Mixing Drugs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @10:41AM (#43104153)

    Doctors are not even close to infallible. I suffered a severe injury (SCI) six years ago and as a result I'm quite acquainted with lots of doctors and lots of prescription drugs. I'm currently taking eight different meds daily, some delivered via intrathecal pump directly into my CSF. (This is after several attempts to prune down my list of medications and dosages as much as possible.)

    With that many (mostly somewhat unusual) meds floating around in my system, and the fact that each person might experience different reactions, none of my numerous doctors can predict what interactions and side effects I might experience. They usually just tell me to ramp up on a new med slowly, ramp down on old meds slowly, and call them if anything strange happens. Even with that degree of caution, I've ended up in an ER with dangerous (and terrifying) interaction effects. And in those situations my doctors have always expressed indifferent "oh well, guess we need to try something else" attitudes.

    So for me Google has been quite valuable in researching potential side effects and interactions that have been experienced by real people with similar medical profiles. Based on this research I've refused some drugs docs have suggested, and suggested some drugs all my docs have overlooked. Since taking the driver's seat with my own regimen based on internet research I've been MUCH better than I was when I just accepted the words of the "experts".

    The 81%/19% statistic mentioned above doesn't mean you will have a 19% chance of dying if you take Dr. Google's advice. I see this as a potentially useful tool that streamlines one particular use that lots of people like me are already using Google for. Combined with a doctor's experience and (most importantly) my own knowledge and experiences, it might be quite valuable.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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