FDA Embracing Cloud, APIs In OpenFDA Initiative

Greg Slabodkin | Health Data Management | November 20, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is leveraging the cloud as part of its openFDA initiative to make data on recalls and adverse events easily accessible to software developers and researchers.  Cloud computing technology and related tools are providing an unprecedented ability to access and mine health data provided by FDA, which has been releasing datasets under the openFDA initiative since this past summer. For example, an API provides developers and researchers direct access to millions of reports on drug adverse events and medication errors that have been submitted to the regulatory agency since 2004.

Another API returns data from the FDA’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience. This is a dataset that contains medical device adverse event reports and provides a way for software to interact directly with the data, enabling developers and researchers to query thousands of reports dating back to the early 1990s.  

“You can take the data and further enhance on it,” said Taha Kass-Hout, chief health informatics officer at FDA, during a Nov. 19 webinar. However, he emphasized that the APIs—which sit on top of a search engine in a public cloud environment—are not meant for “clinical or decision use” but for open source “beta research and development.”...