A smart pill bottle that automatically releases tablets at a fixed time is designed to reduce the number of patients who do not use their medication correctly.
Although there are pill boxes that can work with a time-release mechanism (opening at a preset time), the new device also records whether the patient has taken their medication – and sends reminders if they have not.
It looks like any other pill bottle, but a dispensing slot in the childproof lid is operated by an app on a cell phone and is open at a specific time of the day.
When that time comes, the patient responds to a reminder in the app, which opens the dosing slot. They then tilt the bottle upside down and a pill or two, depending on the dose, is issued. The mechanism can be adapted to pills or capsules with different shapes and sizes.
New product: it looks like any other pill bottle, but a dispensing slot in the childproof lid is operated by an app on a mobile phone and is open at a certain time of the day
The app records the fact that the dose has been taken and then locks the bottle until the next one is to be administered – reducing the risk of accidental overdose. The data is sent to a central database.
The app reminds the patient if a dose is missed or has not been taken after a certain time. A message can then be sent to the patient's phone.
The information can also be sent from the central database (for example by e-mail) to notify their doctor if a dose is still missed after a certain time. A call can then be made to the patient.
It is thought that about half of the patients do not take the prescribed medication, and this can have major consequences: a 2013 BMJ study found that patients who do not take blood pressure medication as recommended have an almost four-fold increased risk of dying from a stroke. Another 2013 study by Aston University found that this could cost the NHS more than £ 500 million in extra care (for example, due to hospital visits, because not taking their medication as prescribed can lead to a deterioration in health).
People often miss a dose or take it at the wrong time. This so-called non-compliance also influences the outcome of drug research, because the benefits and side effects may not be measured as accurately.
We hope that the new smart bottle, Pill Connect, can help on both counts. The information sent to the database can be viewed by a doctor or by scientists conducting a test.
Swipe? The information can also be sent from the central database (for example by e-mail) to notify their doctor if a dose is still missed after a certain time
The system, developed by Elucid Health in Manchester, has so far been subjected to two studies with around 20 people who found it effective and popular with patients.
The first trial with NHS patients – 12 in total – is now underway in Manchester Infirmary and will be completed next month. It aims to build on the previous results and to solve technical problems.
So far, the system has worked correctly 91 percent of the time.
This will pave the way for larger studies later this year, involving 200 patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes or taking anti-rejection medication after a transplant.
It is hoped that the reusable unit, which costs around £ 25 at launch, can then be used in drug trials and for medication that is already prescribed by doctors next year. Other systems have been tested to improve non-compliance, for example sending text reminders. But unlike with Pill Connect, there is no way to check whether patients have taken the medication.
Simon Maxwell, professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, says: “Non-compliance is a very important topic – in my field, hypertension, it is the most common cause of not being able to properly manage the condition, so everything that helps with this.
"One of the reasons for non-compliance is when, due to time constraints, doctors are unable to fully explain the benefits of the drugs they prescribe, and this does not help.
& # 39; But I think there are many more plus points than disadvantages. & # 39;
In the meantime, a new type of capsule can eliminate the need for patients to take several pills every day.
The capsule is made with 3D printing and filled by robots and consists of different compartments, the walls of which dissolve to release the contents separately at different times. The thickness of the walls can be varied to dissolve depending on how quickly or slowly each drug is to be released.
The developer, US-based Multiply Labs, says it is working with pharmaceutical companies to develop a capsule that contains multiple commonly used generic drugs (the details of which have not been released), but hopes the technology will be used to deliver capsules produce with personalized medicine needs of people in the coming years.
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