In 2016, there have been 145 non-fatal and 55 fatal overdoses in Montgomery County.
“We’re trying to take these creative approaches by pairing addiction counseling services with law enforcement, educating students at school along with our State’s Attorney’s Office, and yet we’re still continuing to see those numbers rise, so that’s somewhat alarming,” said Captain Paul Liquorie, Director of Special Investigations Division with Montgomery County Police.
Liquorie says other areas in the country are even worse.
“OD Help” is an app that’s looking to spark change.
It helps stop a drug overdose from becoming fatal with a quicker distribution of naloxone (brand name is Narcan).
“Naloxone is an FDA approved drug that works to rapidly and effectively reverse the effects of an opioid overdose,” said Dr. Marisa Cruz, Medical Officer with the Food and Drug Administration.
About 200 applicants competed in the Naloxone App Competition this year, hosted by the FDA.
A team of seven from PwrdBy, a company based in California, walked away with not just the 40,000 dollar prize, but an opportunity to curb the opioid epidemic.
“Is there a way if every Uber driver had a Naloxone kit in the back of their car, that you could call someone and they’d be able to come over and administer that Naloxone?” said Jared Sheehan, CEO of PwrdBy.
That concept ended up being the basis of the app, pairing the overdose-reversing drug with ride-sharing services.
Sheehan says PwrdBy’s solution to people overdosing when alone, which happens in more than half of fatal cases, is what separated his team from its competitors.
“If the breathing rate drops below a certain level, that’s how an individual becomes toxic, and there’s a physiological way to track that,” said Sheehan.
PwrdBy uses heart rate monitors in conjunction with its app; addicts would be instructed to wear them.
While the organization says the team is a step closer to its goal, PwrdBy has a long road to hoe before the app’s actual implementation, including achieving grants, building relationships with ride-sharing services, and overpowering concerns that addicts could take advantage of readily available naloxone.
“It’s kind of a baseline of being able to save lives and hopefully use those people, who are saved by Naloxone, to be able to create a movement around trying to curb this epidemic and become advocates for it,” said Sheehan.