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FDA to make information about medication problems more accessible

Colorado residents will soon find it easier to research medications and the problems associated with them. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, have announced a new initiative called openFDA that is intended to make the agency's database of injuries and complications related to medication easier for the public to access. The agency is also creating an application that will allow software developers to build programs while making use of the government data.

The information is already accessible to the public using the FDA website, but the site is reportedly difficult to navigate. The new initiative will make it much easier to find and download reports from the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System, which details the complications associated with the medications regulated by the agency. The tentative rollout for openFDA is summer 2014.

The FDA initiative is part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to make important government information more accessible. Other agencies taking part in the administration's information push include the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These agencies will allow for better categorization and access to information about power outages and labor law violations. In addition, one program may make the allocation of resources to areas impacted by natural disasters more efficient.

The effort by the FDA should be welcome news to consumers concerned about the potentially dangerous risks associated with medications. While pharmaceutical companies may perform extensive research and testing, the long term effects of a drug are frequently unpredictable. Doctors may also sometimes prescribe the wrong medication, or they may fail to adequately check a patient's medical history for potential warning signs. An attorney experienced in this area may bring a legal action on behalf of those who have suffered injury or illness due to problems associated with medication errors.

Source: Federal Times, "FDA making medication data useful to the public", Sean Reilly, January 31, 2014

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