Searching for naloxone to cure a heroin overdose? The FDA wants an app for that.

  • The contents of a naloxone kit are laid out during a press conference on opioid response and Narcan distribution in the Executive Council chambers of the State House on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. ELIZABETH FRANTZ

Washington Post
Published: 9/20/2016 11:01:53 PM

The dilemma is this: Despite the federal Food and Drug Administration’s desperate efforts to fast-track the approval of an easily administered, lifesaving form of an opioid overdose antidote called naloxone, the drug still requires a prescription in some states. Without immediate access in the critical moments of an overdose, as a person’s breathing grows more shallow and level of consciousness fades, the antidote is useless.

Some states have tried to eliminate this barrier by making naloxone – and a nasal-spray version of the antidote sold under the brand name Narcan – more readily available to first responders, community organizations and even the friends and family members of opioid users, and some states have made the antidote available without a prescription - all in an effort to create a grass-roots web of people willing and able to help.

Now, the FDA wants to take that concept one step further – by building an app.

It will be like Yelp, but for the nearest naloxone.

In an announcement Monday, officials called on coders across the country to submit entries to the 2016 Naloxone App Competition, a program developed under the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) Reauthorization Act of 2010, which funds prize contests created by federal agencies to spark innovation.

Registration opens Sept. 23 and closes Oct. 7. The FDA will host a two-day code-a-thon virtually and on its campus Oct. 19-20, where participants will develop early concepts. All code will be made open-source, according to a news release.

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