Introduction: Surveillance of the safety of prescribed drugs after marketing approval has been secured remains fraught with complications. Formal ascertainment by providers and reporting to adverse-event registries, formal surveys by manufacturers, and mining of electronic medical records are all well-known approaches with varying degrees of difficulty, cost, and success. Novel approaches may be a useful adjunct, especially approaches that mine or sample internet-based methods such as online social networks. Methods: A novel commercial software-as-a-service data-mining product supplied by Sysomos from Datasift/Facebook was used to mine all mentions on Facebook of statins and stain-related side effects in the US in the 1-month period 9 January 2017 through 8 February 2017. Results: A total of 4.3% of all 25,700 mentions of statins also mentioned typical stain-related side effects. Multiple methodological weaknesses stymie interpretation of this percentage, which is however not inconsistent with estimates that 5–20% of patients taking statins will experience typical side effects at some time. Conclusions: Future work on pharmacovigilance may be informed by this novel commercial tool, but the inability to mine the full text of a posting poses serious challenges to content categorization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)