For many different reasons some people just don't take their pills. Reasons vary from not taking pills as prescribed or failing to take a full course, to forgetting or just plain refusing to take medication. Whatever the reason, studies show that over 200,000 deaths occur each year from patients not following prescription guidelines. According to the American Heart Association it is the main problem in treating illness today. It is believed that patients with chronic conditions take only half of their medications and are more likely to need hospitalization.
There is a new form of medical big brother with a tattletale pill that is able to inform a doctor when it has, or hasn't, been taken.
As nanotechnology becomes more a part of our every days lives, researchers as the University of Florida (UF) have integrated a miniscule microchip and antenna into a regular pill. This new smart pill contains two main parts: a capsule coated with a label and tiny silver lines (the antenna) printed with nontoxic ink and conductive silver nanopaticles. The second part contains a microchip barely visible to the naked eye. Both parts of the pill are safely digestible.
No battery is necessary as power comes from a safe level of low-voltage electricity. The energy generated enables the chip to send signals via the antenna.
When the pill is ingested it communicates with an electronic device either worn or carried by the patient. Researchers hope that in the future you could use a lap top, cell phone or an electronic device built into a watch.
Once the pill has been ingested it will notify medical professionals, or even family members, that the pill has been taken. The stomach acids then break down the microchip and antenna and is digested like a regular pill.
“It is a way to monitor whether your patient is taking their medication in a timely manner,” said Rizwan Bashirullah, UF assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, who headed up the research team. “The idea is to use technology to do this in a seamless, much less expensive way."
Human trials will begin soon but the prototype was successful using simulated digestive systems.