App to reduce opioid overdose deaths wins FDA contest

A California-based company has won a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contest that called on companies to create a cellphone app to save people from dying from an opioid overdose.
 
Team PwrdBy, a small start-up in Venice, Calif., created an app called OD Help. 
 
Now a prototype, the app would connect potential opioid overdose victims with a network of people who carry naloxone, a prescription drug that acts as an overdose antidote, through existing ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Rover.com.
 
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The FDA launched the competition in September in an effort to reduce the number of people in the U.S. who die each year from overdosing on powerful painkillers.
 
PwrdBy’s product lead, Chris Rovin, said in a video that the app was created to address two major challenges: Timely access to naloxone and detecting an overdose even when the victim is alone.
 
The free app would provide a video tutorial showing how someone can administer naloxone if the are with someone who’s suffering from an overdose. If the person is without the antidote, the app would let them contact someone who has the drug.
 
For victims who are alone, PwrdBy said OD Help would connect to a wireless breathing monitor worn by the victim. The app would detect when a victim’s breathing rate is dangerously low — a sign of an overdose — and alert a naloxone carrier.
 
But Rovin said opioid users must be willing to participate in order for the app to work.
 
“We understand that prevention and education are the most important steps we can take, so we provide a number of in-app resources that anyone concerned of an opioid addiction can leverage,” he said.
 
“In addition to the lives saved, it would begin creating a movement of naloxone and opioid overdose advocates across the U.S.”
 
The company won $40,000 from the FDA to create the app, which it hopes to launch next year with the help of additional grant money it is now applying for.