Edible Microchips to Track Patient’s Compliance with Prescribed Drugs

By Amy Taylor on January 24, 2012

Imagine this: you would have to take an edible microchip which will stay inside your body to track what you eat and drink, and to make sure you take your medications on time. And if you don’t comply, your doctors and relatives will receive an update on their smartphones or computers. Sounds weird right? Well, this isn’t far from reality.

Edible Microchips to be released by Year’s End

Literally taking-in microchips have only been real in books and movies until the arrival of this biotechnology. Proteus Biomedical, a biomedical research company based in California has partnered with Lloyds Pharmacy to introduce the use of digital sensors that will generate information concerning patients’ compliance with medication. According to Lloyds Pharmacy, the World Health Organisation reported that about half of patients fail to take medicines properly. This leads to poor treatment and harmful side effects.

Lloyds Pharmacy plans to release the chips in the market by the end of this year. The microchips are smaller than grains of sand but is said to work effectively in tracking patient’s compliance with medications.

How does it work?

When taken with the prescribed drugs, these tiny chips will be activated by the stomach acid. Once activated, the chip will trigger the body to generate electric currents which are marked with specific signatures (used to identify the name of medicine taken). Then, the electrical currents will be detected by a patch stuck on the skin on the patient’s skin. The patch is powered by a very small battery and must be worn by the patient for seven days. This purpose of the patch is to record the information produced by the chip and send it to the phones of physicians and patient’s relatives using Bluetooth wireless technology.

According to the advocates of these chips, it will greatly help people with severe medical conditions in making sure they receive the right medications at proper time intervals. These chips can detect numerous kinds of pills and is said to effectively work for patients who are suffering from mental health problems

Criticisms

Despite the big step taken to introduce this kind of tracking device in the healthcare industry, there are some issues that confront the advocates of these edible microchips. First, there is still a huge cloud of doubt whether people will be willing to pay for these chips out of their own pockets. It was reported that it will not be covered by the NHS. There are also some doubts regarding the possible health risks associated with the use of these tracking devices. Clinical trials are still needed to determine the efficacy and safety of these edible chips.

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