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FDA launches app competition to help reduce opioid overdose deaths

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday, September 20th the 2016 Naloxone App Competition, a public contest focused on developing innovative technologies to combat the rising epidemic of opioid overdose.

The FDA, with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is inviting computer programmers, public health advocates, clinical researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators from all disciplines to create a mobile phone application that can connect opioid users experiencing an overdose with nearby carriers of the prescription drug naloxone – the antidote for an opioid overdose – thereby increasing the likelihood of timely administration and overdose reversal.

Teams and individuals wishing to participate in the competition will have until Oct. 7, 2016 to register. Registrants will have access to background resources, including 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. On Oct. 19-20, 2016, the FDA will host a two-day code-a-thon on the FDA campus and virtually for registered entrants to develop their concepts and initial prototypes. All code will be made open-source and publicly accessible, and collaboration will be encouraged. Competition participants will then independently refine their concept and submit a video of a functional prototype along with a brief summary of their concept for the development and use of the app by Nov. 7, 2016.

A panel of judges from the FDA, NIDA, and SAMHSA will evaluate submissions and the highest-scoring entrant will receive an award of $40,000. Following the competition, entrants also may apply for NIDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, subject to eligibility requirements set forth in the SBIR funding opportunity announcement, to further develop their concepts and to develop data to evaluate their real-world impact.