In 2018, more than 46,000 people died of opioid overdoses in the United States. One of the most frustrating and heartbreaking tragedies of the opioid crisis is that many of those deaths could be prevented. Overdoses can be reversed by a drug called naloxone, which the FDA made widely available in 2019, after approving a nasal spray version of the drug.
But even the nasal spray can be tough to administer. A thoughtful new design from the Norwegian studio ANTI is intended to make it easier to use—and to save more lives.
ANTI worked with the Nordic pharmaceutical company dne pharma to develop Ventizolve, a naloxone nasal spray that is available in Norway and up for approval across Europe. Though it is the same as naloxone (in a smaller dose), it looks completely different.
The FDA-approved spray comes in a box with two blister packs that have a foil backing the user peels away. Each blister pack has one nasal spray, so you have to take time to open another pack if the first doesn’t work. And the tear-open packaging can lead to accidental discharge.
Ventizolve, on the other hand, is a green, ergonomically shaped plastic case. It’s wrapped with a rubber band to prevent accidental opening, and which they say is also like an emergency pin, reminding the user of what they’re about to do: save a life. Once removed, the case splits open via a hinge in the middle to reveal two nasal sprays. It looks more like a earbud case than a drug-delivery device. That was on purpose. The case makes it easy to spot in the bottom of a bag, comfortable to hold, and difficult to discharge accidentally. Tom Morgan, an executive creative strategist and managing partner at ANTI, cited the “Coca-Cola effect” as a source of inspiration—that is, even without seeing it, you know what the product is based on the shape.
The product was six years in the making. Morgan’s team began by collaborating with a range of people who would use the product, including one user group addicted to pharmaceuticals like OxyContin and another, which became his focus of “extreme users”: heroin addicts, some of whom are activists in the space, like Arild Knutsen, a leader in the Association for Human Drug Policy. The team spent time in clinics and analyzed user’s belongings inside their purses and bags to see how they could make the product easily recognizable at a moment’s glance. They also worked with the medical community and police officers.
To Morgan, the resulting product shows how design can be used to effect positive change. As he puts it, “Design is a word that too often belongs to the wealthiest and healthiest in society.”