electric pill Scientists add reminder microchip to prescription drugs

 

In an effort to combat prescription pill overdose or missed doses, a team of medical professionals have come up with a small microchip that will be added to medication.  The chip then transmits to a Bluetooth device when swallowed.

A recent Popular Science (PS) article revealed that there is a new electronic pill supplement system called the “Proteus Digital Health Feedback System”.  The microchips, when swallowed, will send data to a Bluetooth evice that keeps track of a patient’s medicine intake.  A Dr. George Savage developed the idea along with Andrew Thompson who then took it to an electrical engineer to help develop the idea.  The men stated that it was a “blend of MEMS and wireless data transfer.” 

The article points out that the World Health Organization figures show approximately 50% of patients fail to use their prescription medicine properly. It was these kinds of figures that lead Savage and Thompson to create the pill, and it took about seven years before a prototype was developed for testing.  Their problem was that they needed metals that was safe to ingest, and when swallowed would react with the stomach acids to generate enough electric current to alert an external bluetooth device.  The device will keep tabs of what has or has not been swallowed.  A special application on the device would then record what medicine and dosage was taken and then store that data on a secured cloud for the medical professional to monitor. 

The idea of an electronic pill has been around for a while now with many researchers looking for a usable development of it.  In 2010, the University of Florida online news website ran an article where a very similar device was being created by their College of Engineering.  The device was described to be very similar to the one designed by Dr. Savage and his teammates.  Nevertheless, this fact only emphasizes that some type of monitoring system for prescription drugs has been needed for a long time.  Prescription drug abuse is at epidemic proportions today, and many doctors are torn about what to do when a patient needs something for their pain.  This new delivery system was devised, in part, because most medicines are taken on a patient’s scheduled time, in their own home and without any formal supervision by a medical professional.  In the case of those suffering from life threatening illnesses or some major mental disorder, missing a scheduled dose or abusing it can often result in serious harm or even death.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have approved a placebo version of the device.  However, by it not being a drug, the FDA will need to approve each individual drug looking to have the device as part of the 'active' ingredients.  So, don’t expect to see this on the market until the end of 2014 or early 2015.