Big Pharma to Embed Microchips in Pills_Featured_, Big Pharma Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Novartis AG, one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, is currently planning to embed newly developed microchips into drugs that, when ingested, would transmit information from inside the patient. The “smart-pill” technology, which Novartis AG says will seek regulatory approval of within 18 months, has been developed by Proteus Biomedical of Redwood City, California.
When swallowed, the ingestible chips are activated by stomach acid and send data to a small patch worn on the skin of the patient. The patch can then transmit information to a smartphone or send it to a doctor over the internet. Novartis initially plans to use the technology in already established anti-rejection drugs taken by transplant patients, but has stated that it wants to expand its operation by chipping other drugs. The microchips also have the ability to collect many other types of biometric information like heart rate, temperature, and body movement, which opens up other possibilities for the technology to be employed.
This new technology does bring up some concerns involving safety and patient privacy. At this time, it isn’t known if there are side effects or health risks from ingesting electronic devices of any quantity or size, and because the chips are being added to existing drugs, it is likely that Novartis won’t have to conduct full-scale clinical trials to get the smart-pill approved. Patient privacy is also in question because the wirelessly broadcasted biometric information could potentially be picked up and collected by anyone with the capability, not just doctors and patients. Whether these issues will be investigated and settled remains to be seen.
Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6A754720101108