Medicare isn’t the only federal health agency looking to dump some of its data on the public. The FDA announced today the launch of its openFDA initiative, through which the agency is pulling back the veil on a trove of data on controlled substances.
The FDA today published the pilot version of the openFDA program with 10 years’ worth of data on adverse drug events, providing unprecedented access to the agency’s database. Previously, interested parties would have to request access by submitting cumbersome Freedom of Information Act requests or by using "difficult to use reports," the FDA said.
Just hours after the announcement, SocialHealthInsights announced the 1st app to leverage the data. The company released a beta version of an app that allows users to easily search the information by manufacturer, brand name, reaction and other parameters.
"The openFDA initiative leverages new technologies and methods to unlock the tremendous public data and resources available from the FDA in a user-friendly way," FDA chief operating officer and active chief information officer Walter Harris said in prepared remarks. "OpenFDA is a valuable resource that will help those in the private and public sectors use FDA public data to spur innovation, advance academic research, educate the public, and protect public health."
The agency chose the medication adverse event data based on existing demand for that type of information, but data on device-related adverse events are on the way, an agency spokeswoman told MassDevice.com today.
The openFDA initiative is already accessible to the public and the FDA has provided a few sample reports and charts to demonstrate the power of the data, which has been scrubbed to ensure there’s no personally identifiable information.
The agency hopes that public and private groups, individuals, software developers, scientists and others will take advantage of the database to tease out meaningful information.
"Using this data, a mobile developer could create a search app for a smart phone, for example, a consumer could then use to determine whether anyone else has experienced the same adverse event they did after taking a certain drug," FDA Chief Health Informatics Officer Dr. Taha Kass-Hout wrote today. "These publicly available data sets, once successfully integrated and analyzed, can provide knowledge and insights that cannot be gained from any other single source."