In order to better provide opioid users with ready access to life-saving medication in the case of an overdose, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Monday that it would be hosting a 2016 Naloxone App Competition.

Naloxone is a prescription medication that acts as an antidote for opioid overdose, and, when administered within enough time, could drastically reduce the number of opioid deaths in the U.S. Many states are taking steps to make the drug available to first responders, community organizers, and others; however, the FDA is seeking a tech-based means of connecting someone experiencing an overdose to those who have naloxone nearby.

“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 M. 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.”

Teams have until Oct. 7 to register, and the FDA will host a two-day code-athon Oct. 19-20 as a means of encouraging collaboration between teams. Final app prototypes are due by Nov. 7, at which point a panel of judges from the FDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will award $40,000 to the winning app.

“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. “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 CPR. To date, however, no application is available to connect carriers of naloxone with nearby opioid overdose victims.”

Competitors will have access to information on the opioid epidemic, the approved formulations of naloxone, the public health recommendations for the safe and appropriate use of naloxone, and FDA guidance on mobile medical applications. All code from the competition will be made open-source and publicly available.

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Jessie Bur
Jessie Bur
Jessie Bur is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Cybersecurity, FedRAMP, GSA, Congress, Treasury, DOJ, NIST and Cloud Computing.