The FDA (US version of the MHRA) have approved a trackable medicine, by trackable medicine I mean a drug which has a tiny little transmitter in it, which uses stomach acid as a catalyst to power a little bluetooth type transmitter which sends out a signal which a patch the patient wears which then sends the data to a mobile phone app.
The potential for this technology is amazing, so many possible applications. The potential I see for a few select groups will be life changing, for example older people, senile, dementia, your caregiver or family could be notified if you miss your medication and it would give early warning about a potential slide in your behaviour. The mentally ill such as bipolar or schitzophrenic it would be able to notify your health care team and doctors that you are skipping your medication or not taking it. What about those with eating disorders, it could be placed in food and used to determine if the food has made it to the stomach to be digested. There are also those like myself who are forgetful as hell, and need reminding to take daily medication, and sometimes may have taken it twice. The applications are endless, but these are the top one I’ve thought of over the last few days since I read about this technology.
The first approved drug is called Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole) which is an antipsychotic, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the tracking system is centred around a tiny ingestible sensor about the size of a grain of sand, which is called an Ingestible Event Marker (IEM), and is made from human-safe levels of copper, magnesium and silicon. The IEM is activated by during digestion when it comes in contact with stomach acids, and relays information a patch which the patient wears on their chest. The patch then transmits the data to the patients smart phone, where they can check it along with approved medical personal, family or even friends.
There is currently no research to show it helps with patient compliance alone, but I would imagine the speed at which family, medical staff and friends can respond to missed doses will help get those on track lots quicker before there is an episode / breakdown (not sure if that is the right word), so it can’t be bad.
There are some concerns about giving it to mentally unstable people, who may already suffer from delusions and paranoia, and suggestions that schizophrenics may not have been the best place to starts but its the first area (mental health) I thought about, but maybe those with parkinsons/dementia or similar illnesses which are at stages medicine can treat them would have been a better trial.
There is loads more information in this Science Alert Article, I have only read a few articles in the BBC, Mail and some others, so the science one is quite in-depth and well worth a read.
Blurred Pills with Wifi and Bluetooth Logos by Julie Viken and Modified by Steven UK
A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.