This interesting article appeared a few days ago.
May 24, 2011 | Healthcare IT News Staff
INDIANAPOLIS – The lists of potential side effects that accompany prescription drugs have ballooned in size, but thanks to computer software designed to monitor side effects on drug labels, physicians may be able to better identify which medications would be best for their patients.
The average list of drug side effects on a label is 70 reactions per drug, a number that can overwhelm physicians trying to select suitable treatments for their patients, according to a new study of drug labels.
Long lists of drug side effects—whether found in magazine advertisements or in package inserts—are a familiar sight to patients and doctors. Now researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine have quantified just how complex drug labels have become.
In the study, appearing in the May 23, 2011, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers found that the average label contains 70 different side effects, with more commonly prescribed drugs averaging around 100 side effects. The upper range was remarkably high, with a single label containing as many as 525 reactions. The study involved analysis of more than 5,600 drug labels and more than half a million labeled effects.
"Having a high number of side effects on a drug's label should not suggest that the drug is unsafe. In fact, much of this labeling has less to do with true toxicity than with protecting manufacturers from potential lawsuits," said lead author Jon Duke, MD, Regenstrief Institute investigator and assistant professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine.
"But having all these labeled side effects can overwhelm doctors who must weigh the risks and benefits when prescribing a medication. The Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to discourage such 'overwarning,' but at present information overload is the rule rather than the exception," Duke said.
The study, "A Quantitative Analysis of Adverse Events and 'Overwarning' in Drug Labeling" was co-authored by Dr. Duke, Dr. Friedlin and Patrick Ryan, M.Eng. of the University of North Carolina. The work was conducted with support from the Regenstrief Institute and the National Library of Medicine.
Lots more here:
I am not sure anyone really has the answer to this - and there is no doubt that as the number of medications grows management of ‘what goes with what’ and more important what does not mix is getting beyond the human brain to manage and needs to be helped by really smart decision support!
Clever ideas welcome.