San Jose Convention Center, December 6, 2011. During the luncheon at the conference part of the BIOMEDevice Expo and Conference, I met Patricia Johnson, Director for Pharma Integration, at Proteus Biomedical, Inc. , a medical device maker. She explained to me about one of the company’s products. She said that they have developed ingestible event markers (IEMs) that use the body to power the device.
IEM’s are tiny (the size of a grain of sand), digestible sensors made from food ingredients. The IEM can be integrated into any drug tablet or capsule without changing its properties or performance. After the pill is swallowed, the stomach fluids activate the pill. The IEM creates a digital signal that is then detected by a microelectronic recorder, which can be configured as either a skin patch or a tiny device implanted under the skin. The detector records the information that includes the type of drug, dose, and place of manufacture, etc. It also measures and reports vitals such as heart rate, activity, and respiratory rate. The information is sent up to the cloud where it can be retrieved and reviewed by the doctor. Two of its partners include Novartis and Medtronic.
Drug non-compliance as well as making sure a drug regimen is working is a big problem with older or chronically ill patients. This can reduce the number of doctor visits and relieve some of the stress felt by family caregivers. It is especially helpful for patients that live alone and in remote areas. Being a caregiver myself, I am excited about the potential of this product.