CINCINNATI, Ohio– Seven months ago, a group of students and their professor thought they were ready to help save lives.

Their AntiOD project was finished, they had identified areas around Cincinnati with high overdose rates; they just needed to send them to various locations. 

And then they found out that the devices, which contain doses of NARCAN, couldn't be publicly displayed in Ohio. 

“There’s some regulations where we need to have better control of who is getting Narcan,” explained University of Cincinnati Associate Dean of Research Claudia Robela. 

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy requires tracking of NARCAN. The state wants to know who is administering it, but also who is the recipient. 

That presented a problem for AntiOD, who wanted people to recognize an overdose and treat a victim before paramedics arrive. 

Studies show an overdose victim can suffer brain damage in six minutes, and die in ten. AntiOD would help a victim if paramedics were delayed or far away. 

“Our immediate focus is to meet the Board of Pharmacy regulations in which these dispensers with Narcan access will be made in a private manner with people who have been trained with Narcan administration can access the dispenser.”

The idea is someone would have the AntiOD kit, and a trained person would have the access code to release a NARCAN dose. Like the original idea, the devices are still going to be placed in areas with high overdose rates. 

Rebola said her group is partnering with the Ohio-based Community of First Responders. That group will help train individuals to use NARCAN. 

Rebola said an initial rollout, or testing phase, will begin in Summit and Cuyahoga counties.

“These kinds of obstacles can make your design better. Now with the system, we have options for implementing the smart dispenser.”

The AntiOD case, in addition to the locking mechanism, will loop a PSA-like message on a tablet that would help passersby identify an overdose victim and steps they can take to help. 

Ryan Norton, a first-year graduate student, working on the AntiOD project, said AntiOD is more than saving lives, it’s also about empowering and educating the public to combat the opioid crisis. 

Rebola, for her part, has embraced the new challenges. 

“It kind of taught us though it really takes a community to bring this out. And working with people and the requirements, and being patient and diligent – we are really close.”