Technology seems to be increasingly creeping into areas that never before imagined. The latest of which is introduction of Digital Drugs. Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. of Japan in conjunction with Proteus Digital Health, have teamed up and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have granted a license for this the first ever digital drug.
The function of the drug is based on the embedded microelectronic in the pill that soon as it is in contact with the stomach acid begins transmitting a signal that is picked up by a skin patch worn by the patient that in turn transmits the data to a smart phone app. Hence keeping a track of the patients adherence to the medical advice by taking their drugs and as recorded by by the smart phone.
Although this development may at first glance appear further infantilisation of the patients in general, however the application of this technology to mental health problems in particular schizophrenia and psychosis ensure that the relevant patients are in fact taking taking their drugs , given the problems that are associated with these groups of patients in their reluctance in taking their drug, and their firm belief that the they are not in need of any medication of any sorts.
Although it is not as yet clear if there are any safeguards built into the digital drugs to stop the patients from taking their drugs by simply throwing the medicine in a recently spat up stomach content and beating the system. This creating legal doubts and thus restricting recourse to these records in any given legal processes.
However , the use of this system in drugs associated with dementia and memory problems can be a great aid to carers and medical personnel alike, and further given the accuracy of the the intervals itself can be a further progress in the treatment of various cancers.
Furthermore, in the face of this early development, it could be speculated that embedded devices could be deployed in many forms with with many novel uses in medicine that could ultimately eliminate the need for incision of any sorts from without, given the placement of the devices in the area to be operated upon and instructions issued to the said devices that could in effect operate from within the confines of the body reducing the levels of trauma and the need for long stays in hospital and convalescence.
The fact remains that digital technology could be even more pervasive that what it already has been, and we are at the early days of these sciences, and we are witnessing the tantalising first steps in our life times.