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Anderson L, Bell HG, Gilbert M, Davidson JE, Winter C, Barratt MJ, Win B, Painter JL, Menone C, Sayegh J, Dasgupta N. 
“Using Social Listening Data to Monitor Misuse and Nonmedical Use of Bupropion: A Content Analysis”. 
JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2017 Feb 02;3(1):e6.

BACKGROUND: The nonmedical use of pharmaceutical products has become a significant public health concern. Traditionally, the evaluation of nonmedical use has focused on controlled substances with addiction risk. Currently, there is no effective means of evaluating the nonmedical use of noncontrolled antidepressants.

Social listening, in the context of public health sometimes called infodemiology or infoveillance, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, product, brand, or individual, within forms of electronic interactive media. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine whether content analysis of social listening data could be utilized to identify posts discussing potential misuse or nonmedical use of bupropion and two comparators, amitriptyline and venlafaxine, and (2) to describe and characterize these posts.

METHODS: Social listening was performed on all publicly available posts cumulative through July 29, 2015, from two harm-reduction Web forums, Bluelight and Opiophile, which mentioned the study drugs. The acquired data were stripped of personally identifiable identification (PII). A set of generic, brand, and vernacular product names was used to identify product references in posts. Posts were obtained using natural language processing tools to identify vernacular references to drug misuse-related Preferred Terms from the English Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) version 18 terminology. Posts were reviewed manually by coders, who extracted relevant details.

RESULTS: A total of 7756 references to at least one of the study antidepressants were identified within posts gathered for this study. Of these posts, 668 (8.61, 668/7756) referenced misuse or nonmedical use of the drug, with bupropion accounting for 438 (65.6, 438/668). Of the 668 posts, nonmedical use was discouraged by 40.6 (178/438), 22 (22/100), and 18.5 (24/130) and encouraged by 12.3 (54/438), 10 (10/100), and 10.8 (14/130) for bupropion, amitriptyline, and venlafaxine, respectively. The most commonly reported desired effects were similar to stimulants with bupropion, sedatives with amitriptyline, and dissociatives with venlafaxine. The nasal route of administration was most frequently reported for bupropion, whereas the oral route was most frequently reported for amitriptyline and venlafaxine. Bupropion and venlafaxine were most commonly procured from health care providers, whereas amitriptyline was most commonly obtained or stolen from a third party. The Fleiss kappa for interrater agreement among 20 items with 7 categorical response options evaluated by all 11 raters was 0.448 (95 CI 0.421-0.457).

CONCLUSIONS: Social listening, conducted in collaboration with harm-reduction Web forums, offers a valuable new data source that can be used for monitoring nonmedical use of antidepressants. Additional work on the capabilities of social listening will help further delineate the benefits and limitations of this rapidly evolving data source.

Key Words: Internet; amitriptyline; bupropion; community-based participatory research; harm reduction; pharmacovigilance; prescription drug misuse; social media; substance-related disorders; venlafaxine hydrochloride
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