Technology can do wonders. And it seems that the FDA knows this and hopes it will save the day.
In an effort to help reduce the number of opioid overdoses in the country, the US Food and Drug Administration has announced a contest to develop an app that can help save lives.
Naloxone is the antidote to an opioid overdose. It’s a drug that works by counteracting the effects of heroin and other addictive substances containing opioids such as painkillers and fentanyl.
The 2016 Naloxone App Competition, as it is called, is open to all tech savvy participants, and the FDA is hoping that an app can be invented to easily and quickly connect someone at risk of overdosing or who has done so, with Naloxone.
The contest is running from this Friday through to November 7, 2016, and all submissions are welcome.
The FDA’s press release states that a panel of judges from the FDA, NIDA, and SAMHSA will evaluate submissions and the highest-scoring entrant will receive an award of $40,000.
Following the competition, entrants may also apply for NIDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, if eligible, in order to further develop their concepts.
So, what’s the deal? Is it so hard for people to currently get their hands on Naxolone?
No. But it doesn’t always happen in time.
At the moment, anyone with a prescription for the wonder drug can have it in their possession, and the friends and family of those who use opioids sometimes have it in their possession as a life saving measure, should the person close to them overdose.
Police officers and medical first responders also sometimes have Naloxone in their possession, helping to save lives when attending to emergency calls, in states where overdose is a high risk.
And, interestingly, reports indicate that there actually is enough Naloxone around to treat those who need it.
But the problem is that the drug doesn’t always reach the person who has the overdose in time to save them.
Officials say that, while the drug is available in prescription form from a pharmacy, younger generations don’t always connect pharmacies with life-saving drugs. They may feel the force of stigma when it comes to opioid addiction, and are less likely to seek help via this route.
Having an app available could speak to them in a “language” they are comfortable and familiar with, allows addicted users to maintain a level of privacy while still getting help.
Also, often times it is not used by its expiry date, and so it goes to waste. Which is a large loss, when it could have saved many more lives.
And so, having an app around that could connect opioid users and their communities with the life-saving drug could be a benefit in many ways.
Opioid addiction in the U.S is reaching what is being called “epidemic levels” by experts, and is such a problem that the surgeon general has gotten involved with this letter.
While the obvious and best way to avoid addiction to any kind of drug is to not ingest or take them, for some, somehow, the message just hasn’t hit home yet. Or they wish to stop but find it impossible to do so.
Cyclical problems of drug exposure and use are making it harder to get some groups off of drugs permanently, experts say, and easier access to addictive substances is a growing problem.
For those seeking help for themselves or someone they know, rehabs.com can help in the process of choosing an opioid rehab center.
For more information on the FDA’s app contest, click here.