Data Mining For DoD Health
Contracts naturally come in all sizes, shapes and flavors. Here's one that's just plain fascinating.
"U.S. Department of Defense Chooses Phase Forward to Support FDA-Sponsored Drug Safety Initiative."
That's the headline of a press release from a drug industry firm called Phase Forward. The contract involves an effort to use powerful data mining software to examine the medical records of some 12 million people, a company spokesman told us.
The stated aim is to improve the safety of prescription drugs through "rapid evaluation of DoD healthcare data on Army active duty personnel, their family members and retirees to determine which potential safety 'signals' merit a more thorough investigation through an epidemiological study.
"'FDA's data sharing initiative with DoD and other federal partners is an important step forward in drug safety innovation,' said Phase Forward Lincoln Safety Group President Chan Russell. 'By partnering with DoD and other health care data providers, FDA gains access to a rich and comprehensive set of patient data. We look forward to supporting the DoD and FDA in this important project as part of their efforts to more actively monitor the safety of marketed products.'"
How very interesting.
The company -- a public company -- won't say how much the contract is worth. "In keeping with Phase Forward corporate policy, we don't disclose the terms of customer contracts," a spokesman wrote in an email.
Government Inc. wonders how the information is gathered, who controls it and how it's reused. A company official said the focus is "primarily on safety." The press release notes that the firm has worked closely with major drug companies and health care researchers on some 10,000 clinical trials. The firm describes itself as "a leading provider of integrated data management solutions for clinical trials and drug safety."
Here's question Government Inc. can't yet answer: Is the privacy and autonomy of DoD employees secure?
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