5 Things to Know About openFDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched openFDA, a database designed to make all of the department's publicly available data easily accessible to app developers, researchers and others.

"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 COO and acting CIO, in a news 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."

Here are five things to know about the new database.

  1. The database was created under the recent Presidential Executive Order on Open Data and in alignment with HHS' Health Data Initiative.
  2. The information in this database was previously only available through Freedom of Information Act requests.
  3. openFDA uses a search-based application programming interface, allowing for users to query the database as well as build apps and other software on top of openFDA.
  4. openFDA, currently in a pilot phase, contains about 3 million de-identified records pertaining to adverse drug events and medication errors.
  5. The database will soon be expanded to include data on product recalls and product labeling, and the agency has plans to include more data sets in the future.

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