The appalling state of FDA datasets. AKA APIs plz!

by Gilbert Keith

I’ve been toying around with some data from the FDA, trying to look at whether a project that I’m thinking of is feasible right now. I’m afraid it’s going to be more complicated than it looks.

The FDA really needs to connect better with developers. Right now there are far too many drugs on shortage. Perhaps there are Serious Supply Chain Issues which are precluding quick resolution. But I guess I could care less about those right now. Given that there are shortages, how do you help providers know what’s going on? Can’t we give them the right data at their fingertips?

There’s no programmatic way to report drug shortages, and similarly, no good dataset for making useful applications. Some industry association of pharmacists (ASHP) seems to have more current data a la an XML feed than the FDA.

*There’s a huge trove of drug label information, but it has the absolute WORST interface. Seriously, how do you let people build stuff like this?

*Every single provider I know has a device on which he/she is looking up drug info, but they clearly don’t have access to shortage information… there’s no FDA app, even! Only one developed by an erstwhile PharmD candidate that’s essentialy loading the XML from ASHP site. Bless the forward thinking PharmD candidate! How appalling is this?

Create APIs, people. Let people do stuff with your data to make other’s lives better. Seriously, how hard is it?