No longer will doctors have to worry whether or not their patients have taken their prescribed medications. Thanks to researchers at the University of Florida the pills will now send messages back to the doctor when they have been ingested.
Although still in prototype, each pill is the standard size, with an antenna printed on the surface with ink made of nontoxic, conductive silver nanoparticles. Contained within the pill is a microchip the size of a period which transmits a signal to a nearby receiver. The receiver then sends a message back to the doctor. Currently it is just the transmitting device but in the future it could be built into watches, cell phones or other common items. The antenna breaks down within the body and the mircochip passes through the digestive tract safely.
This new pill will ensure not only that patients are taking there pills but also taking them in the right amounts and at the correct times. Several studies have been done that show that a good number of patients are not taking their pills as prescribed, especially those suffering chronic illnesses. In some cases taking only half the dosages they should be. It has also been reported that nearly 218,000 deaths each year could be attributed to this. The American Heart Association calls patients’ failure to follow prescription regimens “the number one problem in treating illness today.”
All of these issues could be circumvented with the help of this new “smart pill.” University of Florida assistant professor Rizwan Bashirullah says, “The vision of this project has always been that you have an antenna that is biocompatible, and that essentially dissolves a little while after entering the body. The idea is to use technology to do this in a more seamless, much less expensive way.”
The team recently showcased their findings at a conference in Japan and are currently at work on a scholarly paper about their research. They have applied for patents and FDA testing will be done shortly.