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Saturday, September 24, 2016

2016 Naloxone App Competition

The use of smartphones is pervasive in America. In the past, cellphones were a tool that people used for making calls when away from a landline; but today, the typical American adult has little need for a home phone, being all but replaced by iPhones and the like. In many ways we have become dependent upon smartphones, as is evident by sitting in an airport and looking around—practically everyone is staring down an LCD or LED screens of various size.

We use our phone for so many things. We no longer need to ask for directions or pull out our credit card to make purchases. All the information we need to access in our day to day life can be found in the microchips of our smartphones. It is often said that if you can think of something, then there is probably an app for that—and in many cases that is the truth.

While some people's reliance on cellphones can result in unhealthy behaviors, such as staring at Facebook or playing Candy Crush for hours every day, it is possible that in some cases a smartphone could actually save lives. Especially when it comes to addiction. There are a number of apps that have been developed to assist people in recovery when they may be having a rough day. And in some cases recovery apps may be the difference between someone picking up a drink or getting to a 12-Step meeting.

In response to the American opioid epidemic, a crisis stealing 78 lives in this country every day due to overdose, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is calling on app developers to create a naloxone application for smartphones, CNN. This week, the agency announced a competition to see who could develop the best app; the 2016 Naloxone App Competition began yesterday and will conclude on November 7.

In case you are not familiar with naloxone, a drug sold under the brand name Narcan, it is a drug that can reverse the potentially deadly effects of an opioid overdose. In recent years, naloxone has proven to be invaluable—saving lives every day of the week. Across the country, first responders carry the drug so that it can be administered as quickly as possible—in the event of an overdose, time is of the essence. In many states, you no longer need a prescription from a doctor to acquire the life-saving overdose antidote; which means that addicts, their friends and family can have the drug on hand in case of an emergency.

The FDA is looking for an app that will inform people in need of a naloxone kit, where they can find it in their proximity, according to the article. The app would also alert people who are carrying naloxone that someone nearby is experiencing an overdose.

"With a dramatic increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the US, there's a vital need to harness the power of new technologies to quickly and effectively link individuals experiencing an overdose ... with someone who carries and can administer the life-saving medication," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf.

Everyone is welcome to submit an app to the FDA.

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