U.S. regulators recently approved what is being termed the ‘world’s first digital medicine’: a pill with an inbuilt sensor that can be tracked inside the stomach, and communicates data surrounding whether—and when—patients have taken critical medication. The Food and Drug Administration are permitting the device to be used in an antipsychotic medication, with the overall goal of increased medication adherence, and the hope that the data can be used to help both doctors and patients better manage treatment.
All data and scientific literature indicate that poor medication adherence is directly correlated with increased hospitalizations, higher mortality rates, and a number of serious adverse health consequences. Approximately 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed, resulting in at least 100,000 preventable deaths per year. In terms of incurred costs, these numbers translate to between $100 billion and $300 billion dollars in spending, burdening the already weakened infrastructure of health care. Dr. Niteesh Choudhry, an internist at Harvard Medical School, describes the problem as “the final cascade of all of science.”
A startup company based in Baltimore has recently been awarded research funding by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), through a Small Business Innovation grant. emocha Mobile Health, a company focused on medication adherence, will receive $225,000 through the NIH Fast-Track mechanism, with an additional $1.5 million tied to achieving specific milestones.