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Home » What Really Happens When You Mix Medications: Russ Altman (Transcript)

What Really Happens When You Mix Medications: Russ Altman (Transcript)

Full text of Stanford big data techno-optimist Russ Altman’s talk titled “What Really Happens When You Mix Medications?” at TED conference. In this fascinating talk, Russ Altman shows how doctors are studying unexpected drug interactions using a surprising resource: search engine queries.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Russ Altman – Professor of Bioengineering, Genetics, Medicine and Computer Science at Stanford University

So you go to the doctor and get some tests. The doctor determines that you have high cholesterol and you would benefit from medication to treat it. So you get a pillbox.

You have some confidence, your physician has some confidence that this is going to work. The company that invented it did a lot of studies, submitted it to the FDA. They studied it very carefully, skeptically, they approved it. They have a rough idea of how it works, they have a rough idea of what the side effects are. It should be okay.

You have a little more of a conversation with your physician, and the physician is a little worried because you’ve been blue, you haven’t felt like yourself, you haven’t been able to enjoy things in life quite as much as you usually do.

Your physician says, “You know, I think you have some depression. I’m going to have to give you another pill.”

So now we’re talking about two medications. This pill also — millions of people have taken it, the company did studies, the FDA looked at it — all good. Think things should go okay.

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