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article imageLooking for Narcan? There will soon be an app for that

By Karen Graham     Sep 20, 2016 in Health
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they are launching a contest that is intended to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States.
The FDA, along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the 2016 Naloxone App Competition on Monday.
The agencies are looking for computer programmers, public health advocates, clinical researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators to help in combating the opioid crisis. Their goal is to create an easy-to-use app for mobile phones so that drug users experiencing an opioid overdose will be able to connect with the closest provider of naloxone (Narcan).
In other words, this new app would give a drug user easy access to naloxone via his or her mobile phone. And the winner of the app competition will pocket $40,000, before taxes, I guess.
In all seriousness, the opioid crisis in this country is absolutely atrocious. The skyrocketing numbers of opioid users have also caused a spike in overdose deaths, an increase of over 200 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC is still quoting 2014 statistics, where of the 47,055 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., 28,647 of the deaths were the result of some kind of opioid overdose. To be blunt, from 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses. These numbers include heroin and prescription opioids, with the majority, six out of 10, being overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers.
Naloxone in the U.S. is only available by prescription, although some states are allowing the overdose medication to be sold without a doctor's order to family members and friends of opioid users. In Baltimore, Maryland, the city health commissioner has issued a standing order that provides a citywide prescription to anyone who wants to obtain the drug.
“The goal of this competition is to develop a low-cost, scalable, crowd-sourced mobile application that addresses this issue of accessibility,” Dr. Peter Lurie, associate commissioner for public health strategy and analysis at the FDA, said in a statement, according to The Hill.
Just in case the reader may not know, President Obama declared the week of September 18 through 24 as "Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week," according to Fox News.
“During Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, we pause to remember all those we have lost to opioid use disorder, we stand with the courageous individuals in recovery, and we recognize the importance of raising awareness of this epidemic,” Obama said in the proclamation.
More about opioid overdoses, FDA contest, App, Naloxone, prescription only
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