According to a November report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 people in 2017—a 10 percent increase from 2016. Synthetic opioids, the most common drug involved in overdoses that year, took nine lives for every 100,000 people. American life expectancy also dipped for the third year in a row, the report found, in large part because of the growing opioid epidemic.

One of the few ways to save someone from an overdose is naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose if caught early enough, and crucially, it can be administered by just about anyone as long as they have it on hand. According to the CDC, at least 26,400 opioid overdoses in the United States were reversed with naloxone by non-professionals alone between 1996 and 2014. But by the time emergency professionals or someone with a supply of the drug can recognize and reach an overdose victim, it’s often too late.

Now, a new cellphone app could help further reduce fatal overdoses, especially in cases where the victim is alone. The app, created by researchers at the University of Washington, is known as “Second Chance,” and is described by its developers as a potential opioid “alarm system” that can tell when someone overdoses. The research that led to its development was published in a study in Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday.



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