The Big Data Regulator, Rebooted: Why and How the FDA Can and Should Disclose Confidential Data on Prescription Drugs
61 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 18, 2020
Medicines and vaccines are complex products, and it is often extraordinarily difficult to know whether they help or hurt. The FDA holds an enormous reservoir of data on that sheds light on that precise question, yet currently releases only a trickle to researchers, doctors, and patients. Existing processes that might allow public access to such data, such as FOIA, have failed, and reactive disclosure as a model cannot succeed. We present here a wealth of new evidence about the urgency of the problem and argue that the FDA must “reboot” its rules to proactively disclose all safety and efficacy data for drugs and vaccines, with minimal redaction — what we deem “data publicity.” We also provide a road-map to enable this data publicity and show that it can be done without legislative reform, while respecting privacy, protecting any legitimate trade secrets, and maintaining or improving incentives to innovate.
The regulatory state in the information age faces enormous challenges. Medicines and vaccines are just two examples of the enormous array of products that are increasingly information-ally complex. The FDA must adapt to protect and expand structural accountability, and to protect the public and its trust. The model we offer here could, we suggest, become a template for other regulatory agencies, enabling better oversight of information-intensive industries and helping safeguard the agencies themselves.
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