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Researchers design automatic opioid overdose antidote device

Published on 25/07/19 at 10:38am
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Researchers at Purdue University are developing a device that would automatically detect an overdose in opioid users and release a burst of naloxone, an antidote to opioids deadly effects.

Hyowon "Hugh" Lee, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue, explained: “The antidote is always going to be with you. The device wouldn't require you to recognize that you're having an overdose or to inject yourself with naloxone, keeping you stable long enough for emergency services to arrive.”

Around 130 people die from opioid related drug overdoses each day in the United States, according to data from US Department of Health. The device could be especially helpful in saving opioid users who are alone and incapacitated as they die.

The device works by releasing naloxone when a person’s respiration rate decreases to a certain level. Opioid users die through overdoses when the receptors in the brain that regulate breathing are binded to by the drugs. This causes people to hypoventilate and die.  

The device would be similar to an insulin pump. It would be able to administer naloxone within 10 seconds of detecting an overdose.

“The goal is to make the whole system unobtrusive, so that you don't feel like you're having to wear something large all the time,” Lee said.

The researcher claim the setup could also be used to administer other drugs such as epinephrine for those with allergies.

Louis Goss

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