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Anyone seeking certain information about a medicine from the Food and Drug Administration may have a harder time getting what they want, thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that expanded the ability of federal agencies to withhold confidential data from the public.

At issue is an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that permits the government to withhold trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from someone who considers the material to be confidential. As a result, the FDA regularly redacts portions of documents that pertain to, say, approval applications or review procedures.

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  • One might observe that given the complexities of, and complaints about, the improved FDA website, just putting the information there anyway would lock it away from human view.

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