One of the biggest issues in the United States when it comes to medication is patients refusing to take their pills or forgetting the correct dose, but new smart pills that track and alert patients may improve the percentage of people sticking to their plans.
That’s what Proteus Digital Health is hoping will happen with their new ingestible smart pills, capable of sitting in the stomach for weeks and alerting patients when they need to take their medication.
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The company raised another $50 million last month, bringing its combined funding total to $450 million. It has been working with Barton Health, located at Lake Tahoe, California, since January to test the smart pills on patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
In preliminary trials, Proteus seen 85 percent of patients with high blood pressure reach their goal, as opposed to 33 percent in normal conditions, according to co-founder Dr. George Savage.
Could smart pills be used to track other ailments without you knowing?
Proteus wants to continue testing before selling the smart pill to big pharma, but some are concerned that the detection and tracking pill may be misused by medical companies to track other health-related issues, which you might not have disclosed with your doctor.
“If I’m taking pills to control my hypertension, that’s one thing, but if I’m taking pills to control my drug addiction, who gets to see that and who knows about it is a very different thing,” New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan told CNBC. “I think there are vulnerable groups out there for whom this technology might not be seen as the world’s biggest gift.”
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is not making it easy for Proteus, it recently rejected a move to insert the smart sensor directly into a drug called Abilify, usually prescribed to schizophrenics. We suspect similar blockades from the FDA towards other mixed drugs in the near future.
Proteus is receiving a lot of attention from the medical world, in part because it has managed to create a smart pill a new type of battery. The sensor is powered by magnesium and copper films, which when wet power the integrated circuit inside the pill. Your body fluids essentially keep the smart sensor alive, and it sends data out to a body patch.