A look at what might be the first app to tap OpenFDA

From the mHealthNews archive
By Tom Sullivan

Within 24 hours of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's official unveiling its OpenFDA data, OpenFDA Search appeared.

The idea behind the early version app, created by Social Health Insights, is that a user can plug in search criteria, including a range of dates when the adverse drug event was reported, patient age, country, manufacturer, medication brand name, reaction, pharmacologic class, drug indication and product NDC, or pick and choose from that list, then hit a ‘show me the data’ button.

Doing so queries 3,643,470 adverse event reports, according to the app. Searching on a specific brand - say, Tylenol - returns 468 reports. In one of those, an 83-year old female patient reported “renal failure acute,” so adding the word "renal" to the query narrows the list down to 18 reports.

For a patient or doctor who knows the specific drug and the reaction it might have caused (and it would follow that they also know the indication the drug is meant to treat), with just those three pieces of information OpenFDA Search makes it easy to determine whether anyone else has had a similar experience.

Which is basically what FDA Chief Health Informatics Officer Taha Kass-Hout, MD, was hoping someone would do.

“Using this data, a mobile developer could create a search app for a smartphone, for example, which a consumer could then use to determine whether anyone else has experienced the same adverse event they did after taking a certain drug,” Kass-Hout wrote in a blog post.

It’s too early to tell for certain whether OpenFDA Search is technically the very first app to harness the data and reports released by the FDA, but Social Health Insights CTO and co-founder Mark Silverberg said it's “the first search interface for the newly released API.”