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Using Digital Pills to Track Patient Usage

Nearly all of us have a friend or family member who never takes their medication on time. Whether they're just forgetful or they flat-out refuse, those who miss their prescribed medications face numerous health risks. It's a serious problem that affects countless individuals from every corner of the globe – and we might be on the verge of a solution.

Pioneered by the team with Proteus Digital Health, this solution comes via a tiny sensor – small enough to fit within a regular-sized pill – and reacts with the fluids within the human stomach to transmit a signal back to a wearable patch. From there, the data is sent to a handy smartphone app to enable long-term storage and tracking.

Officials in the United States have already approved the first drug to use the device: Abilify. It's a medication for treating depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, developers hope to branch out and include more drugs in the near future.

The FDA, who originally cleared Abilify MyCite back in 2012, is optimistic about the breakthrough. Mitchell Mathis, with the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, clarified the company's official stance by saying: "The FDA supports the development and use of new technology in prescription drugs and is committed to working with companies to understand how technology might benefit patients and prescribers."

Exploring Alternate Uses of Digital Pills

The latest breakthrough represents a monumental step in the relationship between healthcare and IT, but things are just beginning to heat up. Apart from including more drug options in the future, the research team with Proteus Digital Health wants to see their product used for more than just monitoring pill usage.

Digital pills could also be used to help regulate medication in patients with multiple prescriptions or special diets and those suffering from pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes or various heart conditions. Recent studies predict a highly profitable future market for the smart pills niche, especially between now and 2022 as consumers become acquainted with the new technology.

But critics of the technology point out that the system hasn't yet been proven to increase adherence in the patients who take medication. All it does, in its current state, is track and report dosage information. Those who are already hesitant or forgetful have no real incentive to improve their scheduling, so it might not have much of an impact at all.

Digital Pills and the Future of Data Storage

For now, digital pills don't require any amount of internal data storage. Instead, the data they generate is immediately transmitted to an external storage system. It's an efficient method for handling miniscule datasets – but it's of little use to applications that require more information and processing power. Although modern data storage devices aren't small enough to fit into pill form or to be swallowed comfortably, it's anybody's guess as to what the future holds. After all, these devices are getting smaller every single day.

For more information on Proteus Digital Health, including information Abilify MyCite or any of their other research, please visit their official website at {{|}}.


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