Smart Pill on the Horizon

Article

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a smart pill that sends notification when it has been swallowed. The pill contains an embedded microchip and has a printed, digestible antenna on the outside made of nontoxic, conductive silver lines.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a smart pill that sends notification when it has been swallowed. The pill contains an embedded microchip and has a printed, digestible antenna on the outside made of nontoxic, conductive silver lines. Once the pill is ingested, the pill relays this information to a cell phone or laptop via a small electronic device carried by the patient.

So far, the pill has been tested successfully on artificial models and cadavers. According to Rizwan Bashirullah, PhD, one of the pill‚s developers, all that is left behind once the pill breaks down is a small byproduct of silver, which is reported to be less than the amount found in tap water. Based on these results, the researchers plan on seeking FDA approval and hope to bring their smart pill to market in 2 years.

The researchers see their smart pills as having the greatest utility in clinical trials, and envision the pills eliminating the burden of having researchers watch participants swallow every pill. Because noncompliance in clinical trials can skew results of efficacy testing, which can end up being a costly problem for drug manufacturers, there may be incentive to adopt the technology quickly.

Although the researchers are primarily focused on applying the technology in the clinical trial setting, they are not ruling out other applications, such as use in clinical practice. Allowing physicians to assess whether their patients are complying with their medication regimens may be especially important in certain settings. "You can envision it having an impact if this picks up for the elderly, mental health, or addiction patients," said Bashirullah in a press statement.

While some may be concerned that this technology will only serve to increase drug prices, which is often considered to be the most major hurdle to medication adherence, Bashirullah noted that as high volumes of the pills are produced, costs would come down. He compared the smart pills to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, noting that now that RFID tags are in the mass market, they can be purchased for as little as 25 cents, and that a similar pricing structure may be followed with the smart pills.

What do you think? Will these help solve the compliance dilemma? Send an e-mail to cloguidice@onclive.com.

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