Yesterday, the FDA announced a new initiative called openFDA to give developers, health care researchers, clinicians, and the public access to important public health data. openFDA is currently in beta, but it's definitely looking quite promising.
OpenFDA utilizes a search-based Application Program Interface (API) to collect large amounts of existing publicly available data, offering developers the ability to search through text within that data, ranking results much like a search using Google would do. This method then allows them to build their own applications on top of openFDA, giving them a large amount of flexibility to determine what types of data they would like to search and how they would like to present that data to end-users. This enables a wide variety of applications to be built on one common platform.
The openFDA Initiative was formally launched with the creation of the Chief Health Informatics Officer (CHIO) and the Office of Informatics and Technology Innovation (OITI) at the FDA.