FDA makes access to public health data easier

June 2 Mon Jun 2, 2014 11:25pm EDT

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June 2 (Reuters) - U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday launched openFDA, a project that will make it easier for researchers, mobile application creators, web developers and the general public to access public health data collected by the regulator.

OpenFDA will make the agency's publicly available data accessible in a structured computer-readable format, in line with the recent presidential executive order on open data, the FDA said in a statement. (r.reuters.com/jas79v)

The data was earlier available only through difficult-to-use reports or requests under Freedom of Information Act.

OpenFDA uses a search-based Application Program Interface (API) to collect large amounts of existing publicly available data, offering developers the ability to search through text within that data, ranking results much like a search engine would do.

The FDA said the adverse events data made available under the openFDA project does not contain any data that could potentially be used to identify individuals or other private information.

The dataset covers nearly 4 million records from 2004 to 2013, according to the openFDA website.

The regulator also plans to expand the pilot to include its database on product recalls and product labeling. (Reporting By Ankush Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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