FDA seeks input on medical apps

Nobody cares whether the Angry Birds app offers an accurate depiction of bird behavior.

But when it comes to health-related apps -- interactive tools and information sources available via smart phones and other hand-held devices -- accuracy and authority are essential. And the stakes can be high, too.

For now the estimated 17,000 medical apps on the market, which offer everything from nutrition advice to ultrasounds, operate largely unfettered by federal oversight. But the FDA earlier this week announced it would be taking a closer look at some apps, particularly those that pose the greatest risk if they don’t work correctly and those that are used as mobile extensions of standard medical devices the agency already regulates.

The agency has also posted proposed regulations for medical apps. The public -- that’s you! -- has until Oct. 19 to comment.

In the meantime, check out the National Library of Medicine’s gallery of existing health- and medicine-related apps and sites.

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