Subscribe to Newsletter
Business & Regulation Business Practice, Trends & Forecasts

Mining Social Media

Pharma’s forays into the brave new world of social media have not always been successful ( – but mining social media for information has attracted a lot of attention. But how exactly do you extract meaningful data from online chatter?

“Most systems for extracting adverse drug reactions (ADRs) follow a dictionary-based approach. The main drawback of these systems is that they fail to recognize terms which are not included in the dictionary,” wrote Isabel Segura-Bedmar, Ricardo Revert and Paloma Martinezin in a recent paper (1). “In addition, the dictionary-based approach is not able to handle the large number of spelling and grammar errors in social media texts.”

To help overcome these issues, the Spanish researchers have developed a system that mines social media and specialized blogs to detect potential ADRs. They have developed a prototype system (2), which uses the framework of Project TrendMiner (a project funded by the European Commission to deliver open-source, real-time methods for mining and summarizing online media) and a linguistic processor based on Daedalus’s commercial MeaningCloud technology.

Put simply, the system analyzes comments on social media with natural language processing techniques that can “translate” colloquial descriptions into more structured information. As well as identifying drug names, illnesses and effects, the system registers co-occurrences too; for example, when looking at anti-anxiety drugs, the system can take into account references to the active ingredient, generic name, or commercial brand name, and also pick out references to therapeutic effects and adverse effects.

The researchers envision the technology being used by pharma companies to listen in on what people are saying online about their drugs, or to gather information on suspected ADRs that could be used to supplement existing information sources.

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Medicine Maker and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

  1. I. Segura-Bedmar, R. Revert and P. Martinez,“Detecting Drugs And Adverse Events From Spanish Health Social Media Streams”, Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Health Text Mining and Information Analysis (2014).
  2. I. Segura-Bedma et al., “Exploring Spanish Health Social Media for detecting drug effects”, BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Systems (in press - 2015).
About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

Register to The Medicine Maker

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Medicine Maker magazine