FDA approves a sensor you can swallow


You say you keep hearing Billy Idol tunes from your navel?

Taking a pill seems like the easiest thing in the world. Pill, glass of water and swallow, right? For many people, however, it isn’t that simple. For them, it’s very easy to take the incorrect dosage at the incorrect time. To help prevent this, Proteus Digital Health of Redwood City, California has developed an ingestible chip that can be embedded in pills and other pharmaceuticals.

Taking pills on a regular basis requires a lot of discipline or a really obsessive use of text alerts. Many modern medicines can’t do their job properly if they’re not taken at the correct time, in the correct dosages and in the correct manner. Unfortunately, over half of all patients don’t follow their prescriptions consistently.

Many patients, such as cancer sufferers, transplant recipients and those with HIV must take batteries of medicines that are hard to keep track of. For the elderly, failing memories make it just as difficult. They make errors or fall into bad habits and don’t get the full benefit of their pharmaceuticals. This is where Proteus Digital Health’s ingestible sensor comes in.

The sensor, called the Ingestion Event Marker (IEM), is a sensor chip that can be embedded in a pill and then swallowed by the patient. When the chip reaches the stomach, the stomach fluids start powering it and the chip sends out an ID signal complete with time stamp. This is picked up by a special patch worn by the patient. The patch notes the ID and time stamp, and wirelessly transmits this to a mobile phone application along with data collected directly by the patch such as heart rate, body position and activity.

This information can, with the patient’s consent, be shared with doctors and other caregivers to see if the medication has been taken in at the right time, place and manner and to help the patient develop healthier habits.

My sense of humor gets the better of me sometimes. All I can think is – our government figures we’ll swallow anything.

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