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Tom Morrison

Ask Wolfram|Alpha about Medical Drug Treatments

July 15, 2010 —
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A new medical diagnosis or drug treatment can often leave us with more questions than answers. A few weeks ago we introduced a disease dataset within Wolfram|Alpha that can be helpful for those wondering how their condition and treatment plans compare to those of other patients. Most notably, this dataset includes the fraction of patients within the United States that have been diagnosed with a medical condition in a given year. For each condition, Wolfram|Alpha has various levels of information, including commonly reported symptoms, co-occurring diseases, and lab tests used for diagnosis. Beyond this, Wolfram|Alpha also has carefully curated data on drug treatments. For example:

The data displayed from these inputs gives classes of drugs prescribed or administered to patients during health care provider visits. Wolfram|Alpha ranks the drug classes by the number of patients to whom they were administered. For example, “hypertension drug treatment”, initially shows us that, of all the patients diagnosed with hypertension, 25% were prescribed angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, 22% HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, 21% cardioselective beta blockers, 19% antihypertensive combinations, and 16% calcium channel blocking agents. (That’s over 100% total because some patients are prescribed more than one medication.)

Drugs prescribed to treat hypertension

Looking above the ranked drug table we can see that there are a handful of useful options. Click “Show drugs”, and the table opens up and displays a ranked table of brand-name drugs prescribed within each class. From this table, you can see interesting differences in drug-prescribing patterns between the sexes. For example, the angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor Lisinopril is more commonly prescribed to male hypertension patients than females, but looking further down the list, we can see that female patients are more commonly prescribed Enalapril than are males.

Common brand-name drugs used to treat hypertension

Wolfram|Alpha can also can also provide generic options for prescription drug treatments. For example, by searching “drug treatments for depression” and pressing “Show drugs” and then selecting “Generic drugs” from the available options, we can see that though Lexapro, Zoloft, and Celexa are the top three most prescribed brand-name selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, switching to the generic drug view indicates that escitalopram, sertaline, and fluoxetine are the top-ranked generic drugs. This is interesting because if we switch back to the brand-name list, escitalopram (generic for Lexapro) and sertraline (generic for Zoloft) remain at the top two positions, but citalopram (generic for Celexa) drops off the top three and is replaced by fluoxetine (generic for Prozac). Further, by pressing the “More drugs” option at the top and switching between the generic and brand-name views, we can see that the percentage of females prescribed citalopram is 6.9% versus 4.7% for Celexa. This indicates that, although they are the same basic drug, another more obscure brand name version of citalopram is prescribed far less than Celexa.


The examples mentioned above barely scratch the surface of the drug information contained within Wolfram|Alpha in relation to disease. Currently we are working on adding more raw data to our drug treatment dataset, and we are constantly developing more tools in an effort to make exploration of all data easier. We encourage you to submit your suggestions to make the prescription information within Wolfram|Alpha more useful.


Should also offer homeopathic treatment options.

Posted by A Sagarwala July 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Leaving aside the controversy over the efficacy (or lack thereof) of homeopathic treatment, data for their prescription rates would be far harder to get ahold of, as they are not prescribed under the same systems as conventional medicines. Also, from what I understand, the different remedies are not generally prescribed per-disease, but, in theory, by the combination of symptoms and lifestyle factors of the patient.

    Posted by Ctheiz July 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm

what’s about ayurveda treatments drugs?.

Posted by Dr Unnati Chavda July 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Observing that HMGCoA reductase inhibitors are NOT blood pressure treatments, this type of result demonstrates that elevated cholesterol is common among patients with elevated blood pressure. Providing links to drug indications would help lay readers of the tables.

Posted by David L August 16, 2010 at 10:31 am

Thanks Tom for sharing such a nice article for us…
Wolframalpha is really a great web application..

Posted by Ahmad R March 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Tom, Thats really a great piece of writing..
Thanks for sharing.. (y)

Posted by Ayesha T April 25, 2014 at 10:31 am

I am using this app since last year and its working great…Thanx

Posted by Stephen July 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I am guessing that the database is reliable then, right? I would like to check my sister’s treatment as she suffers from fibromyalgia and the doctor has been switching her medications every couple of months.

Will check it out. Thanks!


Posted by Romeo August 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm