FDA RFQ: Health Fraud Online Surveillance Project related to COVID-19

Solicitation: FDA-SOL-20-1231453

The FDA requires contractor support services to further its ongoing efforts to counter the widespread illegal marketing and sale of fraudulent health products over the Internet.

The main objective is to protect public health by obtaining online market surveillance to help identify fake and/or counterfeit products that claim to cure or prevent COVID-19 and other human food products and medical products or devices with potentially fraudulent health claims.

The FDA wants to explore ways to automate its online market surveillance activities using the latest available technology in data mining. The desired minimum viable product (MVP) will provide FDA with the market surveillance data informed by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.  Data will be indicative of the current online marketplace activities and will provide the continuous monitoring of the Internet to capture relevant data related to FDA-regulated commodities:

Illicit food and/or dietary supplement websites, operators, and facilitators. This includes the sale of dietary supplements which contain undeclared ingredients or are not approved for use/sale in the US by the FDA. This also includes the sale of food products which may be potentially harmful to consumers (i.e., adulterated, etc.). HFB particularly wants any listings for products included in the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s (CDER) Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements database…

The Contractor shall provide online surveillance data results informed by artificial intelligence, machine learning and/or other related technologies (e.g., natural language processing, social listening), which identify websites, operators, facilitators and related information pertaining to COVID-19 health claims among the various FDA-regulated commodities: dietary supplements; medical products; human food; cosmetics; vaccine, blood and/or biologics; animal and veterinary; medical device; and radiation-emitting products. For the MVP required by this contract, the scope will be limited to obtaining market surveillance data related to the dietary supplements as this commodity consists of highest number of violations.  Additional commodity groups may be added to the scope depending on the outcome of the dietary supplement surveillance data. The Contractor shall surveil various publicly available data in the following internet platforms:

  • Merchant websites
  • Various online marketplaces such Amazon.com, Walmart.com, eBay, Etsy, Bonanza, Alibaba, CraigsList, Mercari, and eCRATER
  • Publicly available social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

The Contractor shall also identify products with potentially fraudulent images and/or images with fraudulent messages.  The Contractor shall incorporate WhoIs domain name searches for the targeted list of potential violators.

The Contractor shall present these data in user friendly dashboards with drill-down capabilities for details on suspected merchants and products and allow for trend analysis across multiple internet platforms.  The Contractor shall ensure that all reports and dashboards include download capabilities….

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