Searching Social Media for Drug Side Effects

Tech companies are trying to make sense of patients’ postings online

For decades, pharmaceutical companies and regulators have relied on reports from doctors and patients to monitor the side effects of drugs. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collects hundreds of thousands of these records each year, that’s a sliver of patients’ negative experiences. Researchers estimate more than 90 percent go unreported. It can take years for the FDA to detect a pattern of problems that leads to changes in how a drug is prescribed.

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