Saturday, December 18, 2010

Smart pill technology for transplant recipients

I try not to look too far in the future when worrying as there is plenty to worry about on a day-to-day basis, let alone worrying about things that might or might not happen years down the line. But, I must say that every once in while an email thread on one of the CHD or transplant parent lists I'm on will start some future-focused worry. I have a seen a few conversations about rebellious teens who refuse to take their medications and parents wondering how to be sure they have on a daily basis. I actually have a student whose friend just had to get her second heart transplant primarily because she decided she didn't want to take her meds for a while during her teen years. I hope we never have to go through it, but I am given hope by this article on a new technology that allows doctors to know when patients have or have not taken their meds:

amednews: Smart pill technology on Novartis radar :: Nov. 23, 2010 ... American Medical News

The article introduces the dissolvable microchip that is in the drug - when the pill dissolves in the stomach, the chip sends a message to alert those who need to know that the pill has been taken and digested. I'm sure there are parents out there on some of the lists I am on who would love to have an email each day that lets them know the pill has been taken! Just a sense of relief if nothing else.

Novartis is planning to introduce it in their transplant medication (it didn't seem to list the medication in this article), and then future applications may be used in cancer and cardiovascular drugs. Technology is sometimes scary, sometimes amazing, but I must say that I am so very thankful there are people out there doing research in how to use tech effectively in health care - obviously, Bean's life depended on a lot of that technology (and will continue to for the rest of her life). It gives me a brighter hope for the future and alleviates some of that future worry I try to avoid!

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