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Smart Pill Bottles to Be Tested in Clinical Trials

Update Date: Aug 09, 2013 02:35 PM EDT

Even though medications are extremely important, people still tend to forget taking them. Due to the fact that people, particularly senior citizens, forget to take their pills, scientists from the University of Alabama in Huntsville have created a smart pill bottle that would remind people when they have missed a dose. The bottle would also inform the person when to take the medications. This bottle, which has been patented at the University, could be the next new thing in medicine shelves.

In order to determine if the smart pill bottles are worth it to manufacture and distribute, the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City has been given a $100,000 grant to test the effectiveness of this new product. The grant came from the New York City Economic Development Corporation and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The college, which is a part of Cornell University, will undergo a trial to see if the smart pill bottle helps with drug adherence in patients with HIV.

The clinical trial will last 12 weeks. The researchers will follow 70 HIV-positive participants who are being treated at Weill Cornell. The participants are known for having difficulty with drug compliance. They will all be offered adherence counseling that will educate them about the importance of taking their medications. Only one half of the group will be given the smart pill bottles to help with medicine compliance.

The bottle is manufactured by AdhereTech, which is a startup company that received the license to the technology from the University.  The smart pill bottle works by using a sensor that is capable of recording the times the bottle was opened while keeping track of how many pills are in the bottle. It can also detect amounts of liquid if the medicine is not in a pill form. When the sensor detects changes, it will send the information to the patient's phone through text or email. The light on the bottle will also start blinking and make a sound to remind the patient when to take the medication. The technology was invented by Dr. Emil Jovanov, an associate professor from the University's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

"That opens up incredible opportunities. For example, your physician could know how compliant you really are and adjust therapy accordingly, or your pharmacy could prepare refills automatically, and the device can prolong independent living for the elderly," said Jovanov. "AdhereTech impressed us from the very beginning with their passion, energy and great ideas. We have been helping them with maturation of the product and we are very excited to see the first clinical deployment of the system."

The company is also planning on having 1,000 smart pill bottles tested in trials with patients diagnosed with type two diabetes. 

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