Quantifying the severity of adverse drug reactions using social media

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Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) impact the health of 100,000s of individuals annually in the United States with associated costs in the hundreds of billions. The monitoring and analysis of the severity of adverse drug reactions is limited by the current qualitative and categorical system of severity classifications. Previous efforts have generated quantitative estimates for a subset of ADRs, but were limited in scope due to the time and costs associated with the efforts. We present a semi-supervised approach that estimates ADR severity by using a lexical network of ADR word embeddings and label propagation. We use this method to estimate the severity of 28,113 ADRs, representing 12,198 unique ADR concepts from MedDRA. Our Severity of Adverse Events Derived from Reddit (SAEDR) scores have good correlations with real-world outcomes. SAEDR scores had Spearman correlations with ADR case outcomes in FAERS of 0.595, 0.633, and -0.748 for death, serious outcome, and no outcome, respectively. We investigate different methods for defining initial seed term sets and evaluate their impact on severity estimates. We analyzed severity distributions for ADRs based on their appearance in Boxed Warning drug label sections, as well as ADRs with sex-specific associations. We find that ADRs discovered postmarket have significantly greater severity compared to those discovered in the clinical trial. We create quantitative Drug RIsk Profile (DRIP) scores for 968 drugs that have a Spearman correlation of 0.377 with drugs ranked by FAERS cases resulting in death, where the given drug was the primary suspect. We make the SAEDR and DRIP scores publicly available in order to enable more quantitative analysis of pharmacovigilance data.

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