“About half of all people don’t take medications like they’re supposed to,” says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla,California. “This device could be a solution to that problem, so that doctors can know when to rev up a patient’s medication adherence.” Topol is not affiliated with the company that manufactures the device, Proteus Digital Health in Redwood City, California, but he embraces the sensor’s futuristic appeal, saying, “It’s like big brother watching you take your medicine.”
The sand-particle sized sensor consists of a minute silicon chip containing trace amounts of magnesium and copper. When swallowed, it generates a slight voltage in response to digestive juices, which conveys a signal to the surface of a person’s skin where a patch then relays the information to a mobile phone belonging to a healthcare-provider.
Although at present its only allowable use is within placebo tablets, many hope that they will be approved within other drugs in the future, its interesting to note that there haven't been any real public developments of the technology. Yet it still has great potential. "Medicines that must be taken for years, such as those for drug resistant tuberculosis, diabetes, and for the elderly with chronic diseases, are top candidates", says George Savage, co-founder and chief medical officer at the company.
“The point is not for doctors to castigate people, but to understand how people are responding to their treatments,” Savage says. “This way doctors can prescribe a different dose or a different medicine if they learn that it’s not being taken appropriately.”
In his book published in January, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, Topol says that the 2010s will be known as the era of digital medical devices. “There are so many of these new technologies coming along,” Topol says, “it’s going to be a new frontier for rendering care.”
Original Article at blogs.nature.com