The FDA looks to tech industry for help in combating the opioid epidemic

In a Sept. 19 press release, the federal Food and Drug Administration announced a public contest to create new technologies that would help to curb the rise in opioid overdoses.

The 2016 Naloxone App Competition is calling on innovators in the technology industry to develop an app that would quickly link opioid users who have overdosed to accessible carriers of naloxone - a prescription drug that reverses the effects of the overdose.

"With a dramatic increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S., there's a vital need to harness the power of new technologies to quickly and effectively link individuals experiencing an overdose – or a bystander such as a friend or family member – with someone who carries and can administer the life-saving medication," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, in the announcement. "Through this competition, we are tapping public health-focused innovators to help bring technological solutions to a real-world problem that is costing the U.S. thousands of lives each year."

According to The Washington Post, ideas will be accepted from Sept. 23 through Oct. 7, and after that, the FDA will host a code-a-thon both virtually and on its campus. Here, participants will generate and expand current concepts.

In 2014 there were close to 28,000 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S., both prescription and illicit, reported the source.

The code will be made open-source and teamwork and collaboration will be highly encouraged. In November, all ideas and submissions will be reviewed by not just the FDA, but also by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The submission ranked with the highest score by judges will receive an award of $40,000.

The FDA is calling on outside industry to help create an app that may help ease the opioid epidemic.