A Silicon Valley company on Thursday announced a new category of pharmaceuticals described as the first “digital pill” program of its kind, one in which the chemotherapy pills taken by cancer patients are packaged with a sensor that can alert a physician, pharmacist, or caregiver after it has been swallowed.
Seven patients — all of whom have colorectal cancer in stage 3 or stage 4 and are being treated in Minnesota — have been provided with the treatment since September, according to Proteus Digital Health. The idea is that, by tracking when patients take their drugs, health care providers will be better able to ensure medication adherence and to provide treatment guidance, with the goal of improving health outcomes.
Mechanism of action
After patients swallow a capsule, the sensor activates when it gets wet in the stomach and then pings a signal to a patch that patients wear on their torso. That transmits data on the time of day, the size of the dose, and the type of medication taken to an online portal that the patient can view. If patients choose to allow it, their support team can access the portal, too.
Bioethical point of view. What about patients’ privacy?
The digital medicines program helps optimize treatment regimens while maintaining a patient’s privacy. The program securely captures, records, and shares information about the time, dose, and type of oral chemotherapy medication taken. This information, as well as data on rest, activity, and resting heart rate, can be shared with the patient’s consent with their physician, pharmacist, or caretaker. The information can only be seen by the patient and their designated individuals on a secure, mobile-friendly platform developed by Proteus (see more HERE).