According to a new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, drug companies have been studying a pill containing a biodegradable chip that can transmit information to a user's iPhone.
Proteus Biomedical has developed a biodegradable digital device that transmits medical data to iPhones, or similar handheld devices, as soon as the patient swallows it. Swiss drugmaker Novartis has partnered up with Proteus, seeing the link between smartpills and smartphones as having potential in providing drugmakers with data on how their products are working.
Proteus’ product has three components: a powered sensor called the ingestible event marker (IEM), glued to a pill; a nonmedicated skin patch sensor that works like a drug delivery patch; and a smartphone app that collects and transmits data. After being swallowed, the IEM can transmit information on the type of drug, dosage times, and heart and respiratory rates to the skin patch, which likewise sends it to the smartphone.
One obvious benefit of the new smartpill is the potential for diabetes patients to monitor blood glucose more easily, and pharmaceutical companies hope to be able to glean more information about a how the body responds to new medications, than is presently available from traditional clinical trials.