FDA app challenge, USDA grants take on opioid abuse


A new app challenge from the Food and Drug Administration calls on developers to help create a tool that can help people overdosing on opioids more quickly reach pharmacies that carry the antidote naloxone.

The FDA is working on the challenge with the support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The designer of the winning app will receive $40,000, according to an announcement.

Expanding access to Naloxone is goals of the FDA’s Opioids Action Plan and the Department of Health and Human Services’ HHS Opioid Initiative. 

Though the antidote requires a prescription, an increasing number of states have made it available to first responders, community-based organizations and designated laypeople, according to the announcement.

Participants in the 2016 Naloxone App Competition must register by Oct. 7. The FDA plans a two-day Code-A-Thon on Oct. 19 and 20 for participants to develop their initial prototypes, and will provide background resources for the project. All code must be open source. A video of a functional prototype and brief summary of the concept must be submitted by Nov. 7.

The Department of Agriculture also has announced it will fund 11 distance learning and seven telemedicine projects in 16 states, some of which are focused on substance abuse treatment.

In South Carolina, for instance, the Florence County Commission on Alcohol & Drug Abuse received a $318,218 grant to connect health clinics to commission hub sites through videoconferencing.

And in Virginia, Carilion Medical Center in Roanoke received $434,182 to provide telepsychiatry and other healthcare services to treat opioid misuse in 12 rural counties.