FDA Launches New Program, openFDA

The agency launches the program to help the public get access to valuable FDA data

The FDA has launched openFDA, a new program that makes it easier for members of the public—including researchers and web developers—to access large, public health datasets collected by the FDA, the agency reports. The initiative has been launched in alignment with the Presidential Executive Order on Open Data, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services Health Data Initiative.

According to the FDA, the program will make “the FDA’s publicly available data accessible in a structured, computer readable format that will make it possible for technology specialists, such as mobile application creators, web developers, data visualization artists and researchers to quickly search, query, or pull massive amounts of public information instantaneously and directly from FDA datasets on an as needed basis.”

OpenFDA uses a search-based API to collect large amounts of already-existing public data. It also allows users to search through text within the data and rank results—in a similar fashion to Google. Users can then build their own apps on top of openFDA, according to the FDA.

“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,” said Walter S. Harris, the FDA’s chief operating officer and acting chief information officer, in the FDA’s press release. “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.”

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