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Taken your medicine? Go on, go on, go on…

05 Feb
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I hate my washing machine. It’s reliable, boasts a worthy energy rating and is excellent for cleaning clothes. But no-one at the shop told me this little appliance would spend its entire life nagging me to empty it at the end of every cycle. It doesn’t help that its escalating reminder is one of the most annoying high-pitched beeps known to man. Forgive me then if I roll my eyes skyward as I deliver news that researchers in the US are now testing nagging pill bottles. The ‘GlowCap’ (pictured) is a high-tech top that fits on to a standard pill container and emits a pulsing orange light when it’s time to take your medicine. That’s clever enough, but what happens if you ignore that reminder is pretty astonishing.

Firstly, just like my washing machine, the device emits a series of increasingly insistent prompts. If these reminders are ignored, the GlowCap can use a wireless transmitter to set off an automated telephone or text message reminder to patients. The invention can also generate email or letters advising a family member or the patient’s doctor how often the medication is being taken. A small initial trial is underway to test the innovation – larger trials with a particular focus on drugs for cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure are expected to get underway this summer.

This remarkable device is just one of a series that look to solve the problem of compliance which, as we mentioned previously in this blog, remains a persistent barrier to the efficacy of medication. And it’s not all a world of Apple apps either. Proteus Biomedical has invented a miniscule edible chip that attaches to a pill and sends out an ‘I’ve arrived’ message when it hits the patient’s stomach. Another system involves issuing automated phone reminders to patients who then scan bar codes or electronic chips on their drug to confirm they’re taking the right medication. For more on this emerging science, click here.

1 Comment

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