FDA approves a pill that tells your doctor whether you've swallowed it or not

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/14/fda-approves-a-pill-that-tells.html

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See, I don’t see the problem. I like swallowing, and usually it’s obvious that I did it already. I don’t know why I’d need a pill to tell someone if I swallow.

Oh. Wait. The pill tells the doctor if you swallowed the pill or not. I thought the pill told the doctor whether you swallowed . . . never mind.


The app is named i-Nurse Ratched


For good or for ill I bet this technology will also be used to allow parole officers to find out if convicted sex offenders are taking their chemical castration pills.


Also anyone who must be medicated as a condition of release from psychiatric institutions.
On a slightly less dark side, this could potentially keep some elderly people out of assisted living facilities. If you’re generally able to function on your own but can’t consistently remember to take your medication, this might bridge the gap and buy you a few months or even years of independence.


Scratch all those movie scenes where the captive person saves up there pills to dose the unsuspecting guard to escape.


That is a good point, but on second thought, this seems to add a lot of expense and effort. The elderly would need a combination of the special pill, the patch, the phone, and the app. On top of that, doctors (who tend to already be busy) would start getting alerts.

The doctors (or someone in their offices) would probably need to contact someone to help the forgetful patient, especially if the meds affect cognitive ability. I’ve seen many cases where a reminder to the patient is not enough. A patient taking multiple medications can confuse them. Also, pills get dropped, lost, or are not taken as directed (with or without food, etc.).


You could change the script so that the captive hacks the app or finds a way to fool the sensor instead!


what about suppository pills?


Somewhere in the ad agency for Otsuka Pharmaceutical is one ad-man reading the above and now saying… “Heck! That’s the angle I’ve been looking for!”

Beat me to it!


So dissolving the pill in a solution of a given fluid isn’t gonna break this, huh?


… the new product will also be labeled with a caveat: There’s no evidence that the technology can help patients take their medication as prescribed.

Without more detail in the article, it’s hard to tell if the technology couldn’t be subverted by, say, putting the medication in a pouch of (stinky) butyric acid on the patient’s person, close enough to trick the sensor patch.

EDIT: Slant already beat me to it

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Given the human body is mostly water, that would seem like a serious design flaw.

Or in them if the facility decides to drug their paydays into a stupor.

I shudder to imagine how this might be used on political prisoners, but I suppose police states just shove it down their captives’ throats anyway. The way things are going in the US, we’ll probably find out for ourselves soon enough.

“Gay people? There are no gay people in Ukraine. Just happy guests of our pris…antisocial disorders clinic receiving world-class medical treatment!”


“How does the pill know who swallowed it?”, he said, not looking at the cat.


Now we wait for the first dead person to be discovered when the app alerts someone that they haven’t taken meds in a couple of days.

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I’m wondering what’s to stop someone from just dropping it in a glass of soda, if all the digestible sensor does is send a signal once it’s reached a certain stage of disintegration.


Presumably it needs a communication path to the patch, but holding a metal cup against the patch might be enough.


What if the vic – er, patient – swallows the pill, then puts their finger down their throat?

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Is this to keep you from selling your opioids instead of taking them?