FDA’s public data project to get an upgrade under $1.2M contract


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The Food and Drug Administration issued a more than $1 million contract to digital health startup Iodine for work on openFDA, the agency’s open data portal.

The San Francisco-based company was the original contractor on openFDA, and, under the new contract, will work on making the portal easier to use — by, for example, improving the tools to access various data sets — and bolstering community engagement.

Through OpenFDA, the public can use APIs to tap into data sets on adverse drug events, food and drug recalls, medical device adverse events, and drug product labels. Thomas Goetz, co-founder of Iodine and a former Wired magazine executive editor, said the platform is constantly evolving.

“One of the things we’re really interested in is making openFDA a living, breathing community of people who are using data and learning from the data and gleaning different things from the data,” he told FedScoop.

OpenFDA communities that have developed on GitHub and StackExchange are helping to guide changes to the portal. In particular, Goetz said, users have expressed interest in near-real-time updates of the APIs.

“We’ve been working on that actively” under the new contract, he said.

He also said openFDA will soon launch a new homepage.

Last summer, then-U.S. CTO Todd Park unveiled OpenFDA at the Health Datapalooza in Washington, D.C. FDA Chief Health Informatics Officer Taha Kass-Hout said when openFDA first debuted it received 100 hits per second.

The contract with Iodine runs through August.

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data analytics, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Departments, Food and Drug Administration, Iodine, open data, OpenFDA, Tech, Thomas Goetz