The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a public contest to create an app to combat the rise in opioid overdoses.
The 2016 Naloxone App Competition is looking for innovative technologies to connect opioid users experiencing an overdose with nearby carriers of an antidote, called naloxone.
The FDA's hope, along with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is to increase the likelihood of treatment and oversode reversal.
The competition is an addition to the FDA's Opioids Action Plan and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Opioid Initiative. The goal is to move closer to reducing the impact of opoid misuse, dependence and overdose on American families and communities by making naloxone more accessible.
"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," said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf. "Through this competition, we are tapping public health-focused innovators to help bring technological solutions to a real-world problem that is costing the U.S. thousands of lives each year."
According to SAMHSA, almost two million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2014. Overdose deaths involving these prescriptions have more than tripled since 1999. About 28,000 people died in 2014 alone from an opioid overdose.
Naloxone is only available by prescription, but many states are working to make it more accessible to first responders, community-based organizations, and friends and family of opioid users.
"The goal of this competition is to develop a low-cost, scalable, crowd-sourced mobile application that addresses this issue of accessibility," said Peter Lurie, associate commissioner for public health strategy and analysis at the FDA.
Phone apps have already been created to help people recognize an overdose and administer naloxone. This competition is looking to take this a step further and connect naloxone carriers with nearby opioid overdose victims.
Those interested in participating in the competition can register until October 7. Registrants will have access to background information to help them create the app.
The FDA will host a two day code-a-thon on the FDA campus and virtually for competitors to create their concepts and initial prototypes.
Competitors will perfect their ideas and submit a video of a functional prototype and a brief summary of the concept and use of the app by November 7.
A panel of judges from the FDA, NIDA, and SAMHSA will choose a winner who will receive a $40,000 award.
Entrants can apply for NIDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants after the competition.
You can follow the Naloxone App Competition on social media using #NaloxoneApp.