HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Skipped Medication? Get a Text Message From Your Neglected Pill

In an experimental new system, a microchip planted in your pills will send a text message to your computer or your phone reminding you to take your medication if you forget. According to WSJ Health Blog, Novartis is testing the new system in its blood pressure medication. 

The technology has significantly improved adherence in a very small group of patients taking the company’s blood pressure medicine Diovan, a Novartis exec tells the Financial Times.

Getting patients to consistently take drugs for chronic conditions like high blood pressure can be a problem. The drugs sometimes cause side effects, and failing to take them can raise long-term risks for strokes and heart attacks without causing any immediate symptoms.

Novartis is partnering on the project with a small company called Proteus Biomedical, one of several companies mentioned in this August WSJ story that looked at the push to use wireless technology to try and keep people healthier — an effort that has also drawn big players like Qualcomm and Intel, the piece noted.

This new system raises a number of questions, including who will keep track of this information. Just individuals? Their physicians? Will volunatry participation become mandated by Medicare and Medicaid to keep overall costs lower? Will insurance companies claim access to the information by virtue of their payor status and then deny benefits for conditions that allegedly arise out of failure to follow a doctor's orders? If so, what will happen to the choice to follow or ignore a doctor's prescribed medication plan when the side effects are not worth the benefits?  


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