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Stanford Medicine

Technology

A pill that spills the beans

talkingpill.jpg
Take two of these pills and they’ll call your doctor in the morning.

Engineers at the University of Florida have designed a pill that tells the doctor when you’ve swallowed it. The prototype pill contains a tiny microchip and a digestible antenna that enable it to function as a (literal) inside informant. The University of Florida press release and assistant engineering professor Rizwan Bashirullah address the (huge) potential impact of the invention:

According to the American Heart Association, 10 percent of hospital admissions result from patients not following the guidelines on their prescriptions. Other studies have found that not taking medication properly results in 218,000 deaths annually.

So-called “medication compliance” is a big problem for clinical trials, Bashirullah said, because failure to take experiment drugs skews studies’ results or renders them meaningless. As a result, researchers often require visual confirmation of participants taking pills, an extremely expensive proposition if hundreds or thousands of people are participating in the trials.

“The idea is to use technology to do this in a more seamless, much less expensive way,” Bashirullah said.

Photo adapted from original by Flickr user bark.

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