America’s Food and Drug Administration has approved a radical new digital pill that can both monitor when you have swallowed it, as well as provide your doctor with feedback on how your body is reacting to the drug.
The company, Proteus Digital Health, says the ‘digital pill’ could be adapted for pills which deal with schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as diabetes, and it is now seeking to bring the treatment to Europe.
Each pill also contains a tiny sensor that can communicate, via a digital health feedback system, vital information about medication-taking behaviors and how the body is responding.
The sensor can be integrated into an inert pill or other ingested products, such as pharmaceuticals.
Once the ingestible sensor reaches the stomach, it is powered by contact with stomach fluid and communicates a unique signal that determines identity and timing of ingestion.
This information is transferred through the user’s body tissue to a patch worn on the skin that detects the signal and marks the precise time an ingestible sensor has been taken.
Additional physiologic and behavioral metrics collected by the patch include heart rate, body position and activity.
The patch relays information to a mobile phone application which – with the patient’s consent – can the information is accessible by caregivers and clinicians. The company says that ‘as a result, you can be sure you’re taking your medicines as prescribed, while at the same time receiving unprecedented feedback on your physical response to treatment.
‘Currently, over 50 per cent of us don’t get full benefit from the pharmaceuticals we use, because we take the wrong dose or inconsistently follow our prescriptions.
‘The information from Digital Medicines can help you manage better each and every day, and you can share this information with family members, clinicians and other carer givers, allowing for better informed treatment decisions.’
Dr. George Savage, co-founder and chief medical officer, said: ”We are thrilled to have achieved this important milestone to market our ingestible sensor in the United States now, as well as in Europe.
‘We are very much looking forward to bringing the benefits of our ingestible sensor to the American public in the form of innovative product offerings.’
Dr. Eric Topol, professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute said: ‘The FDA validation represents a major milestone in digital medicine. Directly digitising pills, for the first time, in conjunction with our wireless infrastructure, may prove to be the new standard for influencing medication adherence and significantly aid chronic disease management.’