Every day, 78 people die from an opiate-related overdose in the United States and 3,900 people begin abusing prescription opioids, according to a 2014 study. With over two-million Americans dependent on such drugs, this is a major public health crisis. Many want a low-cost, scalable way to connect opioid users and those around them with the life-saving drug Naloxone aka Narcan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) seek to combat this epidemic via medical apps. With a focus on mobile and development under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, they recently announced the 2016 Naloxone App Competition, a contest focused on creating new technology to fight opioid overdoses.
Many states have allowed Naloxone, a prescription-only opioid overdose antidote, to be more readily available to those dealing with drug users. While there are mobile apps that educate the public on opioids, connect drug users to medical services such as CPR and help doctors prescribe narcotics, there isn’t an app that connects someone experiencing an overdose with someone carrying Naloxone.
FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. stated that:
With a dramatic increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S., there’s a vital need to harness the power of new technologies to quickly and effectively link individuals experiencing an overdose – or a bystander such as a friend or family member – with someone who carries and can administer the life-saving medication.
Registrants of the contest, including programmers, researchers, entrepreneurs and health advocates, are currently working on such a solution with information provided by the FDA and an open-source code-a-thon. Contestants must submit a video of their prototype and a summary of use and development for the app. The contest closes on November 7, 2016, and the winner receives $40,000.