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Lifesaving App for Opioid Users

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Opioid users and their friends and families may soon have an app to locate a source of naloxone, the antidote that can stop or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

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Rebecca Voelker, MSJ

The FDA set a November 7 deadline for computer programmers, public health advocates, clinical researchers, entrepreneurs, and others who registered last month to submit concepts in a competition to develop a potentially lifesaving mobile phone application. “The goal of this competition is to develop a low-cost, scalable, crowd-sourced mobile application that addresses this issue of accessibility,” Peter Lurie, MD, MPH, the FDA’s associate commissioner for public health strategy and analysis, said in a statement.

“Mobile phone applications have been developed to educate laypersons on how to recognize an overdose and administer naloxone, and to connect bystanders with individuals in need of other medical services, such as [cardiopulmonary resuscitation]. To date, however, no application is available to connect carriers of naloxone with nearby opioid overdose victims,” Lurie added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 2 million US residents abused or were dependent on prescription opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine in 2014. The CDC also has reported that the number of drug overdose deaths involving opioids has nearly quadrupled since 1999; every day, an estimated 78 US residents die of an opioid overdose.

Along with the FDA, the competition receives support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Judges from each of the 3 agencies will evaluate the submissions and present a $40 000 award to the highest-scoring entrant.

 read more at JAMA