Application of human factors engineering (HFE) to the design of a naloxone auto-injector for the treatment of opioid emergencies

Robert B. Raffa, Robert Taylor, Joseph V. Pergolizzi, Srinivas Nalamachu, Eric S. Edwards, Evan T. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The increased use of opioids for chronic treatment of pain and the resulting epidemic of opioid overdoses have created a major public health challenge. Parenteral naloxone has been used since the 1970’s to treat opioid overdose. Recently, a novel naloxone auto-injector device (EVZIO, kaleo, Inc., Richmond, VA) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In this article, we review the Human Factors Engineering (HFE) process used in the development and testing of this novel naloxone auto-injector currently used in nonmedical settings for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose. HFE methods were employed throughout the product development process for the naloxone auto-injector including formative and summative studies in order to optimize the auto-injector’s user interface, mitigate use-related hazards and increase reliability during an opioid emergency use scenario. HFE was also used to optimize the product’s design and user interface in order to reduce or prevent user confusion and misuse. The naloxone auto-injector went through a rigorous HFE process that included perceptual, cognitive, and physical action analysis; formative usability evaluations; use error analysis and summative design validation studies. Applying HFE resulted in the development of a product that is safe, fast, easy and predictably reliable to deliver a potentially life-saving dose of naloxone during an opioid overdose emergency. The naloxone auto-injector may be considered as a universal precaution option for at-risk patients prescribed opioids or those who are at increased risk for an opioid overdose emergency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDrug Delivery and Translational Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Auto-injector
  • Human factors engineering
  • Naloxone
  • Opioid overdose
  • Opioid-induced respiratory depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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