Novartis’ ‘smart-pill’ may be ‘watching you’ by 2012

By Alexandria Pešić

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharmacology Pharmaceutical drug

Novartis says it plans to submit its microchip containing ‘smart-pill’ technology to European regulators within 18 months.

The silicon and metal digestible sensor within the tablet, which is activated by stomach acid upon ingestion, is able to transmit data via wireless and Bluetooth connections to a patch worn by the patient, and from there, to a smartphone or a doctor’s computer.

Novartis is currently using the technology on an already-approved drug used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients , but is looking at incorporating the sensor-based technology into other medications for which compliance is critical, such as cardiovascular and oncology drugs.

Speaking at the Reuters’ Health Summit, Trevor Mundel, global head of development at Novartis, said the aim of the technology is to ensure patients “take drugs at the right time and get the dose they need.”

Anticipating that once the sensor-based technology is regulatory approved, the ‘smart-pill’ platform will be transferrable to different drugs, Mundel said future ‘smart-pill’ variants will be able to collect more advanced data, such as a patient’s heart rate, temperature and body movement, to ensure a drug is working effectively.

The company spent $24m on exclusive worldwide rights to the sensor-based technology, developed by Proteus Biomedical, based in California, US.

Proteus CEO, Andrew Thompson said, “We have a great opportunity to bring together a new type of pharmaceutical product to market that could aid patients, their families and physicians to attain maximum adherence with pharmaceutical therapy.”

Competition to bring an “intelligent” drug to market is, however, fierce with rival firm Philips still actively bringing forward its IntelliCap technology, which was first showcased in 2008.

Jeff Shimizu, CTO and R&D manager at Philips Research, told in-PharmaTechnologist the Dutch powerhouse is now positioning its system as a “unique R&D tool for the targeted delivery of pharmaceutical drugs and biologics.”

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