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New data structure eases access to FDA public data

June 03, 2014

A new initiative launched June 2 aims to ease access to U.S. Food & Drug Administration public data for technology specialists, including mobile application creators, web developers, researchers and the public.

OpenFDA collects and structures massive amounts of publicly available FDA data sets using a search-based Application Program Interface. The format enables instant and direct access to the information on an as-needed basis, according to the FDA, and offers developers the ability to search text within the data and even ranks results in a manner similar to how Google does. Developers can build their own applications on top of openFDA with flexibility when it comes to the type of data they would like to search and how to provide the data to end users.

 “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 chief operating officer and acting chief information officer. “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 FDA aligned development of openFDA with the Presidential Executive Order on Open Data and the Department of Health and Human Services Health Data Initiative.

OpenFDA, currently in beta form, can be accessed at For more information, email the FDA at