Sep 10 2015

FDA’s openFDA Program Provides Better Access to Data Sets

The agency’s agile platform makes data sets more readily available to users.

Embracing transparency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used one of its platforms to make medical service data more accessible.

The FDA had long kept the information in its public databases, but sharing it through openFDA — home to some of its largest health data sets— makes it more readily available. According to the agency, this decision will simplify research efforts:

OpenFDA’s Application Programming Interface (API) expands on the previous openFDA resources concerning medical device-related adverse events and recalls by incorporating information from the medical device product life cycle. This includes current data on device classification (6,000 records), 24,000 registrations of device companies and establishments, and the companies’ listings of more than 100,000 devices.

Furthermore, FedScoop reports that openFDA functions similarly to a search engine, returning information based on user inquiries. Still, the FDA warns that some searches will yield incomplete findings: For example, if manufacturers spell their names in different ways, some variants might be excluded.

Another advantage to openFDA is its flexibility. The FDA says the platform gives developers the opportunity to build apps on top of it:

For example, developers could develop a smartphone app to search all the recalls associated with a particular type of device or find all companies that manufacture certain types of devices.

Additional data sets were added to openFDA’s API to give researchers and developers a deeper pool of information to comb through. Its versatility makes it a stronger tool and simplifies the process of finding health data.

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