Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Using Health Information to Find Bad Medicines Quicker and Cheaper

Here is a very valuable use of personal health information aggregated to a population level. John Brownstein and colleagues from Harvard used a network of electronic medical records systems to gather up over 34,000 patient records and confirm that the diabetes medication rosiglitazone (sold as Avandia among other trade names) is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. Of course, that's not really news. What is even better is that they showed that if they had been doing this back when the drug was introduced (1999), they would have found the association in late 2000, rather than 2007, when the reports first appeared.  
Rapid identification of myocardial infarction risk associated with diabetic medications using electronic medical records by Brownstein, J. S., Murphy, S. N., Goldfine, A. B., Grant, R. W., Sordo, M., Gainer, V., Colecchi, J. A., Dubey, A., Nathan, D. M., Glaser, J. P., Kohane, I. S. Diabetes Care Journal publish ahead of print articles
Finding out years earlier that a commonly used drug has an important adverse effect is a very good thing and ought to be a big part of the business case for more exchange of information.

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