Drugs By Microchip Implant: How To NOT Empower Your Patients

I receive daily updates on happenings in pharmacy and healthcare from ASHP daily. It’s a great resource, even when it notifies me of scary stuff such as the following: Looks like we can put the control of our medications in the hands of someone else now. Some may think how wonderful it is that we can now bypass adherence issues and control people’s medications from afar. This would even bypass the community pharmacy. Less pills, right? Less bottles and waste even? More CONTROL by the doc, but less control by the patient.

I pose these questions to you:

– Is it in the patient’s best interest to take control of their health out of their hands? Is it not our goal to EMPOWER them to make healthy choice, to teach them that they know their body better than we do?

– Who will monitor side effects? The patient now no longer has the option of stopping their medications. While I agree this is a problem, I feel it has also saved many lives.

– Would you want your medication managed by a distant doc with a piece of technology that could go awry?

We need to teach people to be healthier, empower them and educate them. This only serves to teach them that they are incapable of taking care of themselves. Where is the incentive to change lifestyle habits?



Novel Microchip Implant Delivers Teriparatide To Osteoporosis Patients.

ABC World News (2/16, story 10, 0:35, Sawyer) reported that “researchers at MIT, Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School” implanted “a microchip in seven women battling osteoporosis.” The devices “automatically deliver the right amount of drugs, daily,” which “can be inserted in your doctor’s office.” In addition, “the doses are preprogrammed.”

USA Today (2/17, Vergano) explains that it was “a medical first,” and that the chip “worked inside patients as drug-delivering pacemakers, following a prescription plan sent by radio signal.” Researchers “presented the study, a ‘safety’ trial of the devices, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Vancouver.”

The Los Angeles Times (2/17, Brown) adds that researchers “implanted the devices in eight women in Denmark, positioning the chips beneath the skin near the waistline and programming them to release daily doses of the hormone.” The authors noted in the study published online Thursday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, “After four months, the chips were safely removed from the patients’ bodies.”

The AP (2/17) reports, “If this early-stage testing eventually pans out, the idea is that doctors one day might program dose changes from afar with the push of a button, or time them for when the patient is sleeping to minimize side effects.”

“The device, made by closely held MicroCHIPS Inc., based in Waltham, Massachusetts, delivered doses of a generic version of Eli Lilly & Co.‘s injectable osteoporosis drug teriparatide [Forteo] to seven women, ages 65 to 70, without adverse effects, according to” the study, Bloomberg (2/17, Lopatto) explains. “The technology is designed to provide a more convenient and accurate method of drug dosing, which could improve patient compliance in taking medicines.”

WebMD (2/17, Boyles) reports, “Each device contained 20 doses of the drug sealed in tiny reservoirs on a specially designed microchip.” It adds that “immediately after implantation it became evident that the device was not working in one patient, and it was removed,” but “an analysis of the remaining seven patients confirmed that the microchip delivered the osteoporosis drug in comparable doses to daily injections with no unwanted side effects.”

“A dose is released when an electrical signal — which can be pre-programmed or initiated wirelessly — melts the metallic membrane covering the reservoir, releasing the drug,” MedPage Today(2/17, Fiore) reports. Researchers “saw that the implant increased biomarkers of bone formation” known as “type I collagen pro-peptide (P1NP)…after the implant was activated, while type I collagenolysis fragment (CTX) was normal and didn’t vary after activation — signals that show the device increases bone formation and not bone resorption.” The authors said that “there were no toxic or adverse events, and many patients reported that they forgot they had an implant.”

HealthDay (2/17, Salamon) reports, “Roughly 1.5-by-2.5 inches in size, the microchip significantly improved patient compliance with a drug regimen that normally requires painful daily self-injections,” the researchers said. “Although a fibrous membrane grew around the device, which was expected, the microchip delivered the drug as effectively as daily injections, the study said.” In addition, “blood tests done after the 12-month study period indicated rates of bone formation similar to when the women self-injected the drug.” Also covering the story are the National Journal (2/17, Fox, Subscription Publication), the Wall Street Journal(2/17, Winslow, Subscription Publication), the Financial Times (2/17, Cookson, Subscription Publication), Reuters (2/17, Steenhuysen),BBC News (2/17, Amos), and the UK’s Daily Mail (2/17, Macrae).