FDA Approves Ingestible 'Digital Pill' To Monitor Medication Adherence

This week, FDA approved an ingestible "digital pill" that features an embedded microchip to record medical information, PCWorld's "Geek Tech" reports (Lee, "Geek Tech," PCWorld, 8/1).

The microchip is the first ingestible device approved by FDA (Maxmen, "News Blog," Nature, 7/30).

About the Digital Pill

The microchip, developed by Proteus Digital Health, is a silicon wafer that is about the size of a grain of sand and includes trace amounts of magnesium and copper.

The device generates electricity when it makes contact with the stomach's digestive fluids and sends a signal to a patch on the patient's skin ("Geek Tech," PCWorld, 8/1).

The disposable patch then can transmit information to a health care provider's mobile phone application, including data on:

  • Time the pill is taken;
  • Heart rate;
  • Body position; and
  • Temperature (Armstrong Moore, CNET, 8/1).


Eric Topol -- director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California -- said the ingestible microchip could address the problem of patients not following drug regimens consistently, allowing doctors to "know when to rev up a patient's medication adherence" ("News Blog," Nature, 7/30).

FDA only has approved the use of the microchip in placebo pills to test whether it works as intended. Proteus hopes to eventually integrate the microchip into prescription medications so the device can track patients' drug adherence and vital signs ("Geek Tech," PCWorld, 8/1).

George Savage, co-founder and CMO of Proteus, said the company hopes to embed the microchip in medications for long-term illnesses, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, diabetes and chronic diseases ("News Blog," Nature, 7/30).

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