Medical

Wearable device injects antidote when it detects opioid overdoses

Wearable device injects antido...
The device (which is being miniaturized) not only injects naloxone, but it also transmits respiratory data to a nearby smartphone
The device (which is being miniaturized) not only injects naloxone, but it also transmits respiratory data to a nearby smartphone
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The device (which is being miniaturized) not only injects naloxone, but it also transmits respiratory data to a nearby smartphone
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The device (which is being miniaturized) not only injects naloxone, but it also transmits respiratory data to a nearby smartphone

Although the drug naloxone can be a lifesaver in cases of opioid overdose, it has to be administered quickly. That's where a new wearable device comes in, as it's designed to first detect the effects of an overdose, and then deliver an injection of naloxone.

Currently in functioning prototype form, the injector is being developed by scientists at the University of Washington, led by doctoral student Justin Chan. It's adhered to the skin over the user's stomach, where it utilizes accelerometers and a microprocessor to continuously monitor their body movement and their rate of respiration.

If it detects a sustained lack of movement – combined with a telltale breathing pattern which is known to precede opioid-overdose-related respiratory failure – it automatically uses a retractable needle to deliver a subcutaneous injection of naloxone from a built-in reservoir. That medication should then restore normal respiration.

Additionally, data on the user's respiratory patterns can be transmitted via Bluetooth to a nearby smartphone, to alert either the patient or a remotely located caregiver.

In order to initially "train" the overdose-detection algorithm utilized by the technology, 25 test subjects afflicted with opioid-use disorder volunteered to wear the device during visits to a supervised injection facility in Vancouver, Canada. When 20 healthy test subjects subsequently simulated opioid-induced respiratory failure by holding their breath (in a hospital setting), the device responded by giving them an injection of naloxone.

The scientists are now working on making the injector smaller and more discreet, with an eye towards commercializing the technology.

"This wearable auto-injector may have the potential to reduce fatalities due to opioid overdoses," says Prof. Shyam Gollakota, co-author of a paper on the research. "We are hopeful it can have a tangible impact on a big source of suffering in this country."

It should be noted that a team at Purdue University is developing an arm-worn opioid-overdose-detecting system which delivers naloxone, although it incorporates a drug capsule that has to be surgically implanted under the skin.

Source: University of Washington via EurekAlert

2 comments
2 comments
ljaques
Buy them for all your favorite neighborhood junkies!
Karmudjun
Hey, great controversial article Ben! But as far as the article in EurekAlert went, this is effective in certain situations like a government or municipal run program for drug abusers. Would these be court ordered therapies for IV junkies? Would these be promos from your local drug dealer? And no where do these devices analyze the cause of the shallow or apneic breathing pattern they just look for the trigger protocol and inject.

Our local EMTs & Paramedics respond to dehydrated anti-psychotic treated patients and immediately inject naloxone for the possible concomitant use of opiates. I can vouch that naloxone does not diminish tardive dyskinesia symptoms, but adequate hydration will. This therapy sounds great - but those who need it probably won't have it, and those who don't need it will have their high cut short!

I don't see the end users wanting to wear such a device if they get a great high and pass out only to wake up to no high and the loss of the cost of their last fix! What business model is this? Maybe court ordered therapy?