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App Aims to Reduce Deaths From Opioid Overdose

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A naloxone kit, used to treat opioid overdoses.

If administered promptly enough, naloxone can chemically reverse an opioid overdose and save a persons life.

Credit: iStockphoto

A Philadelphia-based pilot study tested an application for volunteers, which alerts them to opioid overdoses requiring naloxone.

The UnityPhilly app designed by University of Michigan (U of M) researchers is intended for bystanders in the presence of someone overdosing.

If they lack naloxone, they can use UnityPhilly to alert nearby volunteers who also have the app, while a separate automated 911 call is concurrently sent to trigger an emergency response.

The year-long pilot was held within Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, with 291 suspected overdose alerts reported, and at least one naloxone dose administered by participants in 36.6% of cases; 96% of naloxone dosages led to a successful reversal.

U of M's Gabriela Marcu said UnityPhilly "has been designed with the community, and it's driven entirely by the community. It's neighbors helping neighbors."

From IEEE Spectrum
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