- The FDA launched the 2016 Naloxone App Competition Monday, inviting computer programmers, clinicians, entrepreneurs and others to devise a mobile app capable of connecting overdose victims to the opioid antidote drug.
- The contest builds on the FDA’s Opioids Action Plan, which is focused on easing the impact of opioid misuse and abuse on families and communities through wider access to naloxone.
- Nearly 2 million Americans abused or were addicted to prescription opioids in 2014, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The competition comes as insurance data shows an alarming in opioid-related diagnoses and deaths. The number of medical services and procedures on private insurance claims with an opioid-dependence diagnosis jumped 3,203% between 2007 and 2014, according to a white paper by Fair Health.
During the same period, opioid misuse rose 317% and heroin overdoses increased 530%. The CDC put the number of opioid-related deaths at 28,647 in 2014.
While there are mobile apps to educate people about the signs of overdose and how to administer naloxone, none exist that connects naloxone carriers with individuals overdosing on opioids, according to Peter Lurie, associate commissioner for public health strategy and analysis.
Registered entrants will be able to work on their concepts and initial prototypes during a two-day “code-a-thon” (both virtual and live) on Oct. 19-20. They will then work independently to hone their concept and submit a video of a functional prototype, as well as a brief summary describing how the app would be developed and used, by Nov. 7.
A panel of judges from the FDA, SAMHSA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse will assess the entries and the highest-scoring entrant will win $40,000. Following the competition, entrants may also apply for NIDA Small Business Innovation Research grants to pursue their concepts, the FDA said.
In July, President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, which will expand naloxone availability and boost prescription drug monitoring programs. The administration also is encouraging safe pain management by uncoupling hospitals’ Medicare payments from HCAHPS pain management surveys.