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FDA making medication data useful to the public

Jan. 31, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
A new FDA initiative seeks to make data about medication errors and related events more useful to the public.
A new FDA initiative seeks to make data about medication errors and related events more useful to the public. (defun / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Millions of Food and Drug Administration records on problems stemming from medication mistakes and other issues will be more readily available to the public under a recently announced initiative called “openFDA.”

The initiative will provide raw download access to the agency’s Adverse Event Reporting System, a database of reports on injuries and other complications stemming from use of medical products. The reports will also be accessible through application programming interfaces, software that allow developers to create programs using the government data.

Although the data files are public, they are currently not easily searchable, according to the FDA’s website. Access through APIs or downloads is tentatively scheduled for this summer.

The openFDA program falls under a broader Obama administration initiative aimed at making government data on public and product safety — ranging from information on crime to food safety — easier to obtain. The administration also wants to encourage development of apps and services to help the public make “smart, safer choices,” according to a White House fact sheet. Other undertakings include:

■ “GeoQ,” a tool in development by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that crowdsources “geo-tagged” photographs of disaster areas to assess damage and better allocate resources.

■ “Lantern”: A mobile Energy Department app that lets consumers report and find information on power outages and downed power lines, as well as find gas stations that are open and selling fuel.

■ “LaborSight””A Labor Department tool to let job seekers and consumers check on whether local businesses have violated federal labor laws.+

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