New pill sends SMS when swallowed

A new pill has been developed by Proteus Digital Health which sends an SMS alert to a designated mobile phone once the patient has ingested it. The technology behind this is already available over-the-counter in the UK and can help care-givers manage whether their patient is taking their medication, without having to physically be there every time.

A small sensor is included within the patient’s medication, which is no bigger than a grain of sand. The sensor is made from copper and magnesium, two metals which are fully digestible, generate power when in contact with moisture, and already commonly found in the human diet and supplements.

The patient wears a small sensor patch on their torso which contains unique patient information; once the pill is ingested the sensor charges from within the body and sends a signal to the sensor patch. This triggers an alert that the medication has been ingested and the patch on the outer body relays information to their smart phone.

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Known as The Proteus System, the data collected can then be shared among the patient’s support network from their mobile phone.

It is expected that the system will be more in demand from patients who may find taking regular medication a challenge. Lloyd’s pharmacy, a national brand in the UK, has been offering The Proteus System to patients and caregivers who have subscribed to the service. When preparing their prescription the pharmacist includes a Proteus pill for each dosage.

Proteus’ spokesperson issued a statement confirming that: “the pilot program has mostly worked as hoped in Britain, with adult children reporting they have contacted parents after failing to receive an expected alert.“

Whilst there are a number of products on the market to help with reminding to take medication, The Proteus System is a much more personal solution, allowing family members to contact their loved ones if they are concerned over whether correct dosage is being adhered to.

Once the pilot program has been completed Proteus will be launching into a planned marketing campaign for the pill, targeting the caregivers. Future scope for the pill includes providing the patient’s vital health data, which will be collected and used by healthcare professionals to establish how well patients are faring within a specific treatment plan.