The FDA Wants To Create An App That Could Save Opioid Users' Lives

The FDA has announced a coding competition to create an app that will connect those who need a life-saving antidote to people who have it.

The FDA Wants To Create An App That Could Save Opioid Users' Lives
Getty Images / John Moore

A coding competition may be the Food and Drug Administration's second-most-powerful tool to keep overdose victims from dying. 

The most powerful tool would be naloxone — a potent antidote used when a person overdoses on opioids like heroin or painkillers. 

"You can actually resurrect someone. ... It'll save, we estimate, thousands of lives a year," a spokesman for the National Institute on Drug Abuse said. 

SEE MORE: Implantable Medicine Could Be The Future Of Fighting Opioid Addiction

The problem is some states require a prescription for the drug. But when a person has overdosed, time is critical. 

So the FDA announced a competition to create a mobile app connecting those in need of the antidote to people nearby who do have naloxone prescriptions. 

The idea's been compared to Yelp, but instead of saying a restaurant is 0.2 miles away, it could tell you someone four doors down has the drug. 

The winner, or winners, of the competition will take home $40,000. The FDA is encouraging participants to collaborate before submitting functional prototypes in November.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called opioid overdoses an epidemic, and the FDA reports 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014 alone.