'Tattletale pills' remind you to take your meds

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on July 6, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

If you forget to do what your doctor tells you, you’re not alone.

The American Heart Association says up to 10 percent of hospital admissions result from patients not following the guidelines on their prescriptions.

But now, engineers have created a way to make sure you’re following orders.

Better get that because it may be your morning medication phoning . Dr. Whit Curry says patients don't always do their part.

“It’s a huge problem, of people not taking their pills," Dr. Curry, professor and chair, Department of Community Health and Family Medicine at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. said.

Government studies show 50 percent of people with chronic illnesses don’t take their meds all the time. One example: Former President Bill Clinton, who had heart surgery after he stopped taking drugs for high cholesterol.

Engineering professor at the University of Florida Rizwan Bashirullah has a solution: a tiny micro-chip and antenna stuck to a standard pill capsule.

“I think the name that sort of caught on was ‘antenna pill,’" Bashirullah explained.

First: You swallow the non-toxic, chip-coated pill. Once the device hits your stomach, it sends a signal to a receiver -- like a watch or a bracelet -- which logs everything. This info is uploaded to a database that doctors can access.

“Having a fool-proof way to remind yourself would be, I think, a major advantage just for the average person out there," Curry said.

This could help people prescribed lots of pills who often forget to take them, including women on birth control, folks with TB or those with high blood pressure.

“What we envision this is to be applied to a capsule, very much in the same way you could print a label on a capsule,” Bashirullah said.

Best of all, your sensitive information could stay between you and your doctor, making treatment easier.

Clinical trials are expected to get under way soon.

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