A significant percentage of patients need a complicated, long and syncronized multidrug treatment-schedule. Around 50% of those patients, fail to take their medicines correctly. This leads to increased health complications and it also costs healthcare providers millions every year.
To solve this, the company Proteus Digital Health has designed a digestible microchip that inform the doctor, the carer or the patient himself that the pill has been swallowed.
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The microchips or sensors are the size of a grain of sand and are made out of copper, magnesium and silicon, amounts well below a human being’s recommended daily allowance of such minerals, said Andrew Thompson, chief executive of the Proteus Company. After being ingested the chip will interact with digestive juices to produce a voltage that can be read from the surface of the skin through a detector patch, which then sends a signal via mobile phone to inform the doctor that the pill has been taken.
“There is no radio, no antenna,” Mr. Thompson said. “It’s literally powered by you.”
Mr. Thompson said that sensor-embedded pills are appropriate for older patients, who often take multiple medications, and for conditions like tuberculosis, diabetes, or neurological diseases, where going off a medication regimen can have disastrous consequences.
Mr. Thompson said the first digital drugs will be available in 2014 or early 2015.
Currently, the FDA (Food and Drug administration), and the analogous regulatory agency in Europe have only approved the device based on studies showing its safety and efficacy when implanted in placebo pills. But Proteus expects the device to be approved for other drugs in the near future.