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FDA Releases Data Pertaining to Adverse Drug Event and Medication Errors

Mass quantities of data relating to side effects caused by drugs and other medication errors were publicly released by the FDA with the hope that the information will lead to enhanced research in the area of medication, according to a recent article published by The Hill ("Open FDA Project Releases Millions of Reports," June 2, 2014). The agency has reportedly released over 3 million reports, which were previously only available through tedious Freedom of Information Act requests, on such errors between 2004 and 2013, The Hall reported. The program, titled "openFDA," makes the agency's data available in a structured computer-friendly format, and employs a search-based Application Program Interface (API) that will allow the FDA to collect large amount of data enabling them to rank results much like a common search engine would, according to Reuters ("FDA makes access to public health data easier," June 2, 2014). Patients need not worry because the FDA announced that before launching the program, the agency removed any and all patient identification information, The Hall reported. The FDA apparently also plans to expand this pilot database to include information for consumers relating to product recalls and product labeling, according to Reuters. Further, openFDA is part of a larger movement to make medical data more transparent that expands well beyond the FDA, as several drug manufacturers, working with the help of the National Institutes of Health, have started divulging clinical trial data in an effort to find new uses for older drugs that have been around longer but that are not used as frequently today, according to The Hill.

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