Edible smart pill monitors medication regiments and health issues

UK community pharmacy chain Lloydspharmacy and Proteus Biomedical, Inc., a digital health company, have announced a strategic collaboration to commercialize and launch Helius, a digital health product that combines sensor-enabled tablets, a sensor patch for the body, and a mobile health (mHealth) application to monitor complex medication regiments and health issues.

According to Preoteus Biomedical (Redwood City, Calif., USA), these sensors can monitor if and when medication is taken, as well as how the patient responds to the medication by monitoring their heart rate, body temperature, sleeping patterns, exercise regiment and respiration.

An edible sensor, no larger than a grain of sand, is digested with the medication, either as its own tablet or within the existing medication. Each sensor contains two metals, copper and magnesium, which are activated by stomach fluid.  Once activated, it forms a microscopic battery that sends signals to the adhesive patch attached to the patient’s skin.  The patch is designed to be worn for seven days at a time, and relays the signals sent by the edible sensor wirelessly to a mobile phone.  The mobile phone has an application which tracks when the pill was taken and how the body is responding.  The phone can also remind a patient that it is time to take a pill, according to Preoteus Biomedical.

The World Health Organization estimates 50% of patients fail to take their medicines correctly. Unused prescription medicine is also estimated to cost the National Health Service in the UK around $513 million a year, says Preoteus Biomedical.

 “There is a huge problem with medicines not being taken correctly. 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,” says Steve Gray, healthcare services director at Lloydspharmacy.

As part of the agreement with Proteus, Lloydspharmacy will launch Helius in the UK and sell the system, which is reported to cost $65 a week, through selected pharmacies.

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