FDA is making it easier for patients to participate in the regulatory process with its new Patient Network website, which brings together info previously scattered across various websites into a central, streamlined interface. The new site invites patients to become patient representatives at advisory committee meetings and offers them the opportunity to submit comments on regulations. The ease comes from allowing consumers to use the Patient Network site as the springboard to pre-existing sites like Regulations.gov, saving the steps of site awareness and location. The site was provided through the regulator’s Office of Health and Constituent Services office, which is charged with ensuring patient perspectives are considered during drug development.

“This website will open new channels of communication with the public, such as live chats with senior agency officials,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg wrote in a blog post about the network. 

The patient page also invites readers to join clinical trials, find treatment options and to see what’s been recently approved. It also includes a FAQ section that addresses questions like why drug approvals take a while to go through and what advisory committees do.

Hamburg also wrote that the site’s significance goes beyond providing an easy way for patients and caregivers to seek out safety information and provide regulatory input, writing that the Patient Network “provides a new model for FDA to follow in making its inner workings transparent to the public.”