New smart pill tells patients when the next dose is due

On sale, smart pill with ‘edible microchip’ that tells you and your doctor when the next dose is due

A patch on the skin will pick up a signal once tablet is swallowed and relay this to a smart phone

The system will be offered to patients taking medication for heart conditions and diabetes

Last updated at 12:20 PM on 17th January 2012

Smart pills that tell patients and their doctors if medication is being taken properly are to go on sale in Britain.

Patients take their drugs along with an extra tablet embedded with a tiny edible sensor which sends back information to a receiver in the form of a patch worn on the shoulder or arm.

This tracks when the drugs were taken and the dose, as well as monitoring heart rate and body temperature. It also alerts a patient to when the next dose is due and records whether the patient is sleeping well or taking enough exercise.

Innovation: The shoulder patch logs what time the pills reach the patient’s stomach and sends the information to their smartphone

The information is downloaded to a computer or smartphone which can be accessed by the patient and their doctor.

Older patients, in particular, may need to remember to take five or more different pills at a time, three times a day, for problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Around half of patients do not take their medication properly, meaning they are not getting the full benefit.

The Helius system could prove useful for patients on complex medication regimes. However, it will only be offered privately.

Under the Helius system of smart pills, they would get the five drugs they need each time in a blister pack. The pack would also include the Helius tablet embedded with a sensor the size of a grain of rice.

This is made from food ingredients that react with stomach fluids to power a digital signal for around five minutes which sends information to the shoulder patch about what pills have been taken and when.

The information is then downloaded for the patient and doctor to check that the medication is being taken correctly. The estimated cost to the NHS of unused medication is thought to be almost £400 million a year.

High street chain Lloyds-pharmacy has signed a deal with U.S.-based digital healthcare provider Proteus Biomedical to bring the system to Britain. Patients will be able to buy it privately for around £50 a month from September.

However Nick Pickles, of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This technology has massive potential benefits for healthcare, but it should not be adopted at the expense of patient privacy.

‘Patients taking this medication, and their families, should be aware that they are doing so and be able to see a full breakdown of what data is captured and who it is accessed by.’

Steve Gray, healthcare services director of Lloydspharmacy, said: ‘Anyone taking several medications knows how easy it can be to lose track of whether or not you’ve taken the correct tablets that day.

‘Add to that complex health issues and families caring for loved ones who may not live with them and you can appreciate the benefits of an information service that helps patients get the most from their treatments and for families to help them remain well.’

Chip and pill trials have been carried out in the past but it is thought this is the first time it has been made available to consumers to buy.

via New smart pill tells patients when the next dose is due | Mail Online.

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