Pills That Monitor If You Took Them

Compliance with taking medications is a huge problem in medicine. Studies show more than half of all prescriptions are either not filled or not taken. Everyone is familiar with how easy it is to forget to take medications. This problem becomes overwhelming in complex diseases such as cancer or HIV where patients are on rigorous schedules throughout the day. Even worse is the situation where the
patient may have compromised cognitive abilities.

A new development is a chip containing networked pill that reports back on medication taking and the dissolution of the pill as reported by MIT technology review.

The company behind the technology, Proteus Biomedical, of Redwood City, CA, calls its technology the Raisin system.

In the Raisin system, each pill contains an “ingestible event marker” (IEM). The IEM consists of a sand-grain-size microchip with a thin-film battery that is activated on ingestion, as it is exposed to water. The battery, Proteus says, is nontoxic because it is made from materials similar to those in a vitamin pill. Once swallowed, the IEM sends through the body’s tissues a high-frequency electrical current that’s modulated in such a way that it provides a unique marker of the pill. It’s not an RFID technology: it uses the conductive tissues of the body to conduct the signal, rather than a radio, and the signal is confined within the body.

I previously wrote about about the development of swallowable RFID chips- a technology I like better.

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