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Opening Up

The US Food and Drug Administration has launched openFDA, a new initiative that the agency says will make it easier for researchers, web developers, and the public access its large datasets.

According to a press release from FDA, openFDA uses an API to collect and search through publicly available data. This initial pilot phase dataset includes some 3 million reports on adverse drug events and medication errors reported to FDA between 2004 and 2013.

Developers can then build additional applications on top of that to customize the type of data they search through and how they show that data to their users. A number of applications, the agency says, could be built atop the openFDA platform.

"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," says Walter Harris, the chief operating officer and acting chief information officer at FDA in statement. "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."

The Hill adds that this move toward making medical data more accessible isn't only occurring at FDA; it notes that a number of drug makers and the National Institutes of Health have released clinical trial data to try to find new uses for existing drugs.