Technology & Science

Pill with antenna ensures patients take meds

U.S. researchers have engineered a pill that can alert patients and medical professionals that it's been ingested with the help of a digestible microchip and tiny antenna.

Emits signal when swallowed so MDs can track prescription compliance

If you've ever been plagued by temporary amnesia and forgotten whether or not you took your medication, take heart: U.S. researchers have engineered a pill that will jog your memory.

The pill, designed by engineers at the University of Florida, is embedded with a tiny, non-toxic microchip and antenna that can be digested. When it's ingested, it emits a signal that is picked up by a small electronic device carried or worn by the patient. That device, in turn, signals a cell phone or laptop, letting a patient or medical professional know the pill has been taken.

"It is a way to monitor whether your patient is taking their medication in a timely manner," said Rizwan Bashirullah, an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Florida.

The pill is intended to improve patient compliance with prescriptions. Many people forget to take their medications regularly, which can exacerbate their medical problems, result in unexpected hospitalizations and undermine clinical trial results.

The pill has yet to be tested on humans. To date, it has been tried out on cadavers and models of humans. Scientists have also conducted experiments on the pill to see how effectively it dissolves in stomach acid.

Research shows that the pill leaves behind a trace of silver when it passes through the body. Silver coats the pill and also makes up the antenna; however, the amount left behind in the body is less than is absorbed by the average person drinking tap water, according to researchers.