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FDA Approves First Electronic Pill

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2012 | Medical News You Can Use

The pill is implanted with a microchip that is about the size of a grain of sand  that reacts with digestive materials.

With the thousands of things that each of us has to do every day, it is no  wonder that not everyone is taking medication like they should. Indeed, Eric Topol, the director of Scripps Translational Medicine  in La Jolla, California, said that 50 percent of Americans take their  medications on time, every time. And it is no surprise – short of hiring someone  to follow us around and remind us to take that round of antibiotics, it often is  hard to remember.

In response to that predicament, the Food and Drug Administration, as well as  its counterpart in Europe, has approved the first electronic pill. The pill is  implanted with a microchip that is about the size of a grain of sand that reacts  with digestive materials. Once the pill processes the information, it sends a  signal to a patch that the patient wears on his or her arm, which then sends a  message to the patient’s physician. After its work is done, the microchip is  dissolved and passes through the digestive system like other foods.

While the technology may seem a bit Big Brother, it certainly is welcome in  today’s day and age. In fact, a report that emerged yesterday said that 1 in 5 middle-aged  adults have more than one chronic condition, and half of seniors over the age of  65 have at least two. With increasing amounts of medications to take, it may be  helpful to have a chip remind you to take your medication. And physicians assure  us that they will not be hounding people to take their prescriptions; most say  that they simply will use the information to monitor their patients.

The electronic chip is manufactured by Proteus Digital Health. Currently, the technology is only  approved for use in placebos, but the manufacturers’ obvious next step is usage  in actual medications. Experts hope that digital medicine can improve to the  point where injectable devices can wirelessly implant medication, or even  supplant the need for MRIs, CAT scans and blood work.

Proteus admits the electronic pill may not be helpful for everyone. For  people taking a short round of antibiotics for a brief bout of illness with  recognizable, obvious symptoms, the pill will probably not be necessary. The  electronic pill will be most advantageous to people with long or unceasing  treatments, like tuberculosis or diabetes; or for the elderly, who may forget to  take their medication. Regardless, its approval is a huge step forward for  proponents of digital medicine.

Source: Medical Daily at

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