In an effort to spur innovation around the development of a mobile phone app to help combat opioid overdose, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a Naloxone App Competition.
The competition encourages computer programmers, public health advocates, clinical researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators to develop a low-cost, scalable, crowd-sourced mobile app that connect carriers of naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose, with nearby opioid overdose victims. According to the FDA, such an app would help increase the likelihood that opioid users and first responders are able to identify and react to an overdose by administering naloxone.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in 2014, nearly 2 million Americans aged 12 years or older either abused or were dependent on opioid painkillers. In 2014, 61 percent of drug overdose deaths involved either an opioid painkiller or heroin. Between 2013 and 2014, deaths from any opioid increased 14 percent.
According to a document filed by HHS in the federal register, HHS officials state that even with naloxone increasingly available in the community, persons carrying naloxone may not be on hand when an opioid overdose occurs. “There is still the practical need to connect the individual experiencing the opioid overdose quickly and effectively with an individual carrying naloxone. Mobile phone applications (apps) have been developed to educate laypersons on opioid overdose and administration of naloxone, and to connect bystanders with individuals in need of other medical services.”
HHS officials also stated that in a randomized, controlled trial, researchers demonstrated that a mobile-phone positioning system to dispatch laypersons trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was associated with significantly increased numbers of bystander-initiated CPR procedures on persons with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
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