FDA May Tap Google to Beef Up Drug-Safety Monitoring

The FDA has long been the source of criticism on what is seen as its questionable efficiency. Many have claimed that the system is outdated and misses important safety information-so the agency is looking to make improvements.

The agency is now talking to Google about working together to identify previously unknown side effects. This is just one of many more partnerships the FDA is hoping to set up.

Bloomberg reports that FDA officials recently met with a Google researcher, Evgeniy Gabrilovich, who helped to write a paper in 2013 about using search query data to identify adverse drug reactions.

Gabrilovich and his co-author sifted through 176 million Yahoo! Queries, and found that the search data can be very beneficial in flagging previously undiscovered drug reactions. People search for common symptoms, sometimes with the name of a drug, allowing for new links to be made and further studied.

The FDA does receive reports of adverse drug reactions-almost a million a year-meaning to critics that the system probably misses events and is slow to detect safety problems. A statement by the FDA expressed hope the tentative partnerships will allow them to act more efficiently.