FDA approves 'ingestible sensor' for use as a medical device

Here's one that the conspiracy theorists among us will love: the FDA has approved an "ingestible sensor" made by Proteus Digital Health for marketing as a medical device. Though such a device sounds like it can't be anything other than devious, the idea behind it is quite simple, as it will be used to make sure that patients are taking their pills when they're supposed to. Apparently Proteus has been working with the FDA since 2008 to get this thing approved, so this could prove to be a pretty big breakthrough for the company.

It could also end up being a big breakthrough for doctors and caregivers who previously didn't have any control over whether or not their patients actually followed their instructions. The fact of the matter is that no one actually likes taking pills, and sometimes we choose to ignore instructions that tell us how much to take and when, precisely, to take it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that ignoring those instructions can lead to some pretty serious problems, so now doctors have a way of ensuring that their patients are doing what they should be.

Proteus says that the sensor can be "integrated into an inert pill or other ingested products, such as pharmaceuticals," and is powered by those wonderful fluids you have sloshing around in your stomach. Once the sensor has been ingested, it sends a signal to a patch worn on the skin, telling it the exact time you took your medicine. That information is then relayed to a smartphone app, allowing caregivers to monitor your (hopefully stellar) medicine habits. Once the sensor has done its thing, it dissolves right there in your stomach. This all happens with the patient's consent of course, so you don't need to worry about someone sticking microchips in your pills without telling you (or do you?).

It sounds like a great idea in theory, but at the moment, there's no word on when this technology will hit the market. Still, expect to hear more about this soon, as insurance companies will likely eat this technology up. After all, they'd raise your premiums in a heartbeat if they discovered you weren't regularly taking your meds, so plan on this being a big hit with them.

[via Engadget]