Drug shortages are an increasing problem, particularly for drugs with low profit margins (see: Chronic Hospital Drug Shortages; Can This Problem Be Solved?; Obama Takes Steps to Alleviate Critical Drug Shortages). Note that some of these companies have grown accustomed to drugs that sell for more than $100,000 per year. The FDA has developed an app to track such drug shortages (see: FDA releases app for clinicians to track drug shortages). Here is an excerpt from the article:
The FDA has launched a new app, called DrugShortages, to help health care practitioners and pharmacists track current drug shortages, resolved shortages, and discontinuations of drug products....“The new mobile app [according to an FDA spokesperson,] is an innovative tool that will offer easier and faster access to important drug shortage information. DrugShortages is available on iOS and Android devices. Users can search the database available in the app for a generic name or active ingredient. They can also search for drugs alphabetically or therapeutic category. The app also provides instructions for how an app user can report a drug shortage or supply issue. The FDA hopes the app will help health care practitioners make quick decisions about patient treatment based on the information the app provides. In the past couple years, the FDA has released a few other digital resources for consumers and professionals.In 2012, Epidemico relaunched their app, MedWatcher, in collaboration with the FDA. The app helps consumers report side effects or adverse events of medical devices directly to the FDA....Last summer the FDA launched an API-driven initiative, called openFDA that is designed to help web developers, researchers, and consumers access the FDA’s large public health data sets. The goal for the initiative is to get developers to build their own apps on top of openFDA using the data.
On its web site, OpenFDA describes its mission as providing the following: Open-source APIs for FDA drug, device, and food data. On the home page are listed the following FDA databases as well as the APIs that can be used to guide the development of interfaces to them:
- Adverse events (api.fda.gov/drug/event
- Labeling (api.fda.gov/drug/label)
- Enforcement reports (api.fda.gov/drug/enforcement)
- Adverse events (api.fda.gov/device/event)
- Enforcement reports (api.fda.gov/device/enforcement)
- Enforcement reports (api.fda.gov/food/enforcement)
It is becoming commonplace for various types of companies to publish open-source APIs that developers can then use to access their often useful, in-house databases and "power consumer-facing applications" (see: The Value of APIs for Business). Here's a quote from this web page describing how a company or governmental agency like the FDA can create value by providing such API's.
When an enterprise business releases public APIs that power consumer-facing applications, it enables new ways to engage and connect with its customers through web, mobile, and social apps....As an example, take the hypothetical case of a national auto insurance provider. Over the years, as part of its normal business operations and planning, it has assembled and maintained comprehensive, detailed, and up-to-date data on the quality and condition of local roads all across the country. By making this previously internal data publicly accessible through an API, the company unleashes the creativity of developers and related businesses to devise new uses for the data. Developers create apps that recommend driving routes based in part on road quality. Civic groups develop apps that empower citizens to band together and petition local officials for better funding of transit infrastructure....Simply exposing this previously isolated and hidden data through a public API has given the insurance company a powerful way to extend its reach to thousands of new customers — who now regularly connect with the company in a more personal, meaningful way.