Prescription drugs that kill: The challenge of identifying deaths in government data

Data Driven Journalism – Mike Stuka: “An editor at The Palm Beach Post printed out hundreds of pages of reports and asked a simple question that turned out to be weirdly complex: How many people were being killed by a prescription drug? That question relied on version of a report that was soon discontinued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Instead, the agency built a new web site that doesn’t allow exports or the ability to see substantial chunks of the data. So, I went to raw data files that were horribly formatted — and, before the project was over, the FDA had reissued some of those data files and taken most of them offline. But I didn’t give up hope. Behind the data — known as FAERS, or FDA Adverse Event Reporting System — are more than a decade of data for suspected drug complications of nearly every kind. With multiple drugs in many reports, and multiple versions of many reports, the list of drugs alone…

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