Canada's Information Mediary Corp (IMC) has launched a 'smart' cap for medicine bottles and vials that can remind patients when their next dose is due, writes Phil Taylor.
The Med-ic eCap uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to track the use of medication without any input from the patient, according to IMC. It consists of an RFID sensor that is embedded in the bottle closure and records when the bottle is opened and closed. The usage data is read using a scanner - IMC's CertiScan - for review by the physician, researcher or pharmacist.
The system is designed to provide early warning that a patient is not complying with their medication, either by skipping doses or taking too many, and can be programmed to remind patients to take their doses using beeps or a light signal.
Non-compliance is a serious medical issue that causes 125,000 deaths in the US every year and up to 20 per cent of all hospital and nursing home admissions, according to market research company Cutting Edge Information. It also estimates that 40 per cent of all patients receiving outpatient therapy will experience a treatment failure or new medical problem as a result of improper use.
In one example, a study conducted by GlaxoSmithKline found that 50 per cent of patients stop taking antidepressants after the first three months of treatment, compromising the efficacy of the treatment. To address the problem, companies invest heavily in disease management programmes to engage and educate patients to avoid compromising the perceived value of their products.
Technological innovations are just one way that the compliance issue can be tackled, and RFID is emerging as a front-runner as it does not rely on patient motivation and can be used in a number of different applications.
For example, aside from tracking compliance, the technology can also be used to record the environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, light, moisture) to which a package has been exposed and warn if its activity may be compromised.
And RFID is also being held up as an ideal way of securing the pharmaceutical supply chain, avoiding counterfeiting and diversion of products. A supply chain version for drug manufacturers and pharmacies, to be marketed as eCAP/Secure, is available for pilot testing and will be released later this year.
IMC, which designed the eCap in collaboration with Remind Cap International, has also developed and markets a version of the RFID technology that works with blister packaged drugs under the Med-ic banner.
The eCap will be formally launched at the INTERPHEX show, held next week (16-18 March) in New York, US, but is available immediately. For more details, contact James Neilson .