Antidote dispensing drones or artificial intelligence that detects an overdose could be used to prevent drugs deaths, as a result of government funding awarded to 12 technology projects.

The projects are the winners of the Reducing Drug Deaths Innovation Challenge, funded by the Office for Life Sciences and support the government’s Addiction Mission.

The challenge aims to develop technologies that improve detection, response, or intervention in potential drug related deaths.

Other winning projects include wearable technologies such as smart watches or breathing monitors that can detect an overdose and alert healthcare professionals, family, or others nearby who can intervene.

A transdermal controlled-release patch that can administer naloxone and flumazenil for opioid and benzodiazepine overdose and can be applied by a non-professional is also being explored.

The government confirmed 11 of the projects have been awarded up to £100,000 in funding to develop a prototype across four months of feasibility studies.

And if they show promising results, they can apply for up to £500,000 in grants to test their products with people most at risk of overdose.

This comes as the latest figures show that drug related deaths in Scotland in 2022 were at the lowest level in five years but still significantly higher than the most recent UK average.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland highlighted the role community pharmacies can play in reducing drugs related deaths and the importance of making naloxone more readily available in emergencies, including through community pharmacies.

And the RPS has this week voiced its support for the Home Affairs Committee’s calls for the introduction of supervised drug consumption facilities.

RPS President Professor Claire Anderson said that there was over 30 years of evidence showing the effectiveness of supervised drug consumption facilities from around 100 sites across the world, primarily in Europe.

‘We believe we can apply that learning here and provide clean, safe spaces for those injecting drugs.

‘This will bring illegal drug users closer to mainstream health and addiction support services and provide an opportunity for health professionals to engage in treatment and prevention.

‘This in turn will help to save lives, reduce harm and reduce drug deaths,’ she said.