The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just approved a digital or ‘trackable’ pill that can tell if and when the patient has swallowed the drug. The pill comes with a sensor that can beam to a wearable device if the medicine is taken on schedule.
The new tech was first tested on a drug approved to treat depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, three conditions that are often associated with poor medicine compliance.
The FDA had not approved the drug for patient compliance purposes but said that the technology could be useful for “some” patients. The agency thinks the digital pill could benefit both patients and doctors.
The trackable device embedded in the pill beams a notification to a wearable patch which forwards the message to a mobile app. Patients and their caretakers can check the app to see if the treatment is going according to the prescription.
The Trackable Pill
The sensor that can tell if the pill was ingested is the size of a grain of salt, needs no power source and is activated when it comes into contact with stomach juices. The chemical interaction sparks a minuscule electric charge.
Authors are confident the system could be used to help patients with other conditions take their pills, like those diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease. Such chronic conditions can dramatically up medical costs if the patients fail to take the medication.
The tracking system has been in the works for many years. In 2012, the FDA approved the sensor in the pill. The company behind the invention has received significant funding from St. Jude Medical Inc, Novartis AG, and other pharmaceutical giants.
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