Digital Pills Are Coming

Digital Pills Are Coming

If you think your life has become super entwined with digital devices and actions you may want to think again. Now, it looks like you might be swallowing a digital pill in the near future. This technology is receiving a lot of positive and negative feedback which is mostly being debated under the radar. Mainstream news may have touched on the subject but it seems that it could come upon us before we have a chance to determine its safety or, moreover, its security parameters.

FDA On Board

As much as you might want to think that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has your best interests in mind, particularly your health safety, much of its history begs to differ. That said, it looks like the FDA has given approval to what is being coined, ’micro-chip laden drugs’.

This new tech is described here by a digital pill company called, Proteus Digital Health,

“Digital Medicines are the same pharmaceuticals you take today, with one small change: each pill also contains a tiny sensor that can communicate, via our digital health feedback system, vital information about your medication-taking behaviors and how your body is responding. As a result, you can be sure you’re taking your medicines as prescribed, while at the same time receiving unprecedented feedback on your physical response to treatment.”

Big money is behind this technology including financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who have also backed other questionable endeavors including: GMO agriculture, ‘edible’ and ‘flying’ vaccines, and pesticide-laden traditional scarves.

Tattletale Tech

The first rollout of these ‘med-tech’ applications will be for the enormous liability of patient refusal, forgetfulness or result of mental illness to take important, time sensitive medications. These missteps are considered an expensive problem that costs taxpayers to the tune of $100-$289 billion per year.

Dr. William Shrank, chief medical officer of the health plan division at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center commented to The New York Times,

“When patients don’t adhere to lifestyle or medications that are prescribed for them, there are really substantive consequences that are bad for the patient and very costly,”

The way it works is a patient will sign a consent form giving their doctor and four other people access to digitally sent info showing the date and time a medication was taken. All info can be retrieved on a smartphone app which the patient also has and, in most cases, controls who sees it. Future designs will have visual recognition technology that actual records a pill being placed on the tongue to confirm dosage protocol.

Digital Pill Introduction

Although you may be thinking that you’ll never, ever take a digital pill, the temptation may become too irresistible. Just like microwaves, cell phones, or even automobile navigation systems, digital pills will worm into everyday life without anyone caring about safety or privacy concerns.

Alleged benefits of digital pills include:

  • Elderly patients embracing the ease and safety of avoiding medication skips
  • Monitoring of post-surgical patients at risk of taking too many opioids
  • Tracking paroled prisoners under a court order to take specific drugs
  • Censoring released psychiatric facility patient’s drug protocol
  • Keeping children that rely on life-saving drugs on schedule
  • Insurance companies offering incentives such as discounts on cao-payments

Ingestible Sensor

Swallowing a digital pill sounds as if you are downing a piece of a computer. However, makers of this ingestible sensor claim that it works with the body naturally.

According to Andrew Thompson, president and chief executive of Proteus, the digital pill manufacturer, and Andrew Wright, Otsuka America’s vice president for digital medicine,

“The sensor, containing copper, magnesium and silicon (safe ingredients found in foods), generates an electrical signal when splashed by stomach fluid, like a potato battery, After several minutes, the signal is detected by a Band-Aid-like patch that must be worn on the left rib cage and replaced after seven days,”

Once the patch transmits with the digital pill signal, it immediately records the time and date the pill was taken as well as the activity level of the patient directly via Bluetooth to the phone app. In addition, the app has options for the patient to offer personal info such as mood levels, sleep patterns and other pertinent data that can be assessed by a doctor and anyone else with user access.

There are many concerns regarding this technology, namely if it will compromise privacy. At first, digital pills may seem highly useful but if the wrong hands get involved there could be issues. These issues include marketing strategies such as tracking user’s movements and habits (which is already being done through your location settings on your smartphone) to actual digital manipulation of brain functions. Much of this sounds like science fiction which it can certainly turn into. Hopefully, med-tech will follow a strict protocol road that enhances health while maintaining safety and privacy.