Some excitingly call it the ‘beginning of an era in digital medicine,’ while others view it as a technological movement toward absolute lunacy – despite the positive-sounding advancements. Scientists are moving to put digestible microchips inside of prescription drugs so that your doctor knows if you’re actually taking your medication or not.
How exactly could these microchips track your medication consumption? The sensor, which is about the size of a grain of sand, generates a voltage in response to digestive juices. The voltage response ultimately transfers a signal to the skins surface, where a patch worn by the person then sends the information to a doctor’s phone.
Although the sensors within the microchip are the first digestible devices actually approved by the FDA, the approval is only based on studies using placebo pills that show it’s safety and efficacy. Of course, digestible microchip creator Proteus would love nothing more than to have the device approved for the massive amounts of pharmaceutical drugs given out today – many of which are taken for a lifetime.
“About half of all people don’t take medications like they’re supposed to. This device could be a solution to that problem, so that doctors can know when to rev up a patient’s medication adherence,” said Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla,California. While Topol isn’t affiliated with Proteus Digital Health, the company that manufactures the futuristic device, he embraces what it has to offer, and says“It’s like big brother watching you take your medicine.”
Is that true? Should big brother really be ‘watching over us’ to make sure everyone takes their medication? It seems as if under the guise of helpfulness, the government simply wants to exercise more control over people’s lives. A monitoring system may help control dosage recommendations, but it will ultimately collect data to create a longer-lasting customer to big pharma and continue to feed the disease machine.
“The point is not for doctors to castigate people, but to understand how people are responding to their treatments. This way doctors can prescribe a different dose or a different medicine if they learn that it’s not being taken appropriately,” Savage says.