Last month I wrote about a fun use of Facebook (especially tagging) in science. Today I have a fun story to share from Minnesota Public Radio on how Twitter is being used to help further drug testing. The theme is the same – using technology to harness the power of the crowd, the power of search and organization of content and speed of communication to solve a problem…
Researchers say tweeting about it or posting your concerns online could one day help alert drug companies and federal regulators to problems more quickly — potentially saving lives and money. …
Sifting through innumerable posts on Twitter, Facebook, online message boards and blogs, the researchers will search for early warning signs of adverse drug reactions and interactions normally reported to the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies through official channels by consumers and doctors.
People are increasingly turning to the Internet to find out what’s ailing them, complain about their symptoms or read up on personal health issues, said Ahmed Abbasi, a professor of information technology at U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce in Charlottesville. He says using data from social media could help modernize drug surveillance and have major public health, safety and business impacts.
Funded by a $130,000 grant through the National Science Foundation’s Smart Health and Wellbeing program, the project builds on earlier work analyzing online posts from 2000 to early 2012 for mentions of 20 drugs. Researchers say the earlier effort detected adverse drug reactions — in some cases years earlier than current methods.
Abbasi said their data mining of online sources was able to identify patients experiencing tendon ruptures after using the popular antibiotic Cipro at least two years before the FDA issued its most urgent “black box” warning for the drug and similar antibiotics in 2008.
Just yesterday I was talking to folks about how broadband has allowed us to shift from “doing things faster” to doing new things. This is one great example.