FDA, WebMD Form Public Health Information Partnership

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and WebMD have announced a collaboration that expands consumers' access to the agency's timely and reliable important health information. This joint effort reflects FDA's emphasis on using innovative, technology-based strategies to carry out its foremost mission, which is to promote and to protect the public health.

"We are enthusiastic about this collaboration with WebMD because it will enable us to reach more consumers with accurate, science-based information that can help them improve their health," said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., commissioner of food and drugs. "This is an important step forward in our effort to form partnerships to help bring timely safety alerts and other public health information to a wider audience in the most effective and convenient way."

The partnership includes:

  • A new online consumer health information resource on WebMD.com (www.webmd.com/fda): Consumers can access information on the safety of FDA-regulated products, including food, medicine, and cosmetics, as well as learn how to report problems involving the safety of these products directly to the FDA. In addition, WebMD will bring FDA public health alerts to all WebMD registered users and site visitors that request them. The cross-linked joint resource will also feature FDA's Consumer Updates--timely and easy-to-read articles that are also posted on FDA's main consumer Web site (www.fda.gov/consumer).
  • The FDA contributions to WebMD The Magazine: FDA Consumer Updates will also be featured at least three times a year in WebMD's bimonthly magazine, which reaches nearly nine million consumers. The magazine is distributed to physician office waiting rooms across the country.

Consumers have increasingly consulted all types of sources to find health information, and the Internet is their fastest growing resource, according to a national study released in August 2008 by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Researchers found that 32 percent of American consumers--70 million adults--conducted online health searches in 2007, compared with 16 percent in 2001.

The study also found that most consumers who researched health concerns reported positive outcomes. More than half of those surveyed said the information changed their overall approach to maintaining their health. Four in five said the information helped them better understand how to treat an illness or condition.

The complete terms and components of the partnership are described in a Memorandum of Understanding which is on display online at the Federal Register, Docket No. FDA-2008-N-0043.

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