Patients are constantly lectured on the importance of taking their medications as directed. Yet, a disturbingly low adherence across patient populations remains a major challenge for clinicians, insurance and pharma companies, and of course the patients themselves. New technologies are coming out that are trying to solve this problem, and one of the more exciting ones that is already undergoing clinical trials is the ID-Cap from etectRx, a company based in Newberry, Florida. ID-Cap uses drug capsules that have a bit of electronics and simple chemistry within them to confirm that a patient truly ingested the pill and it ended up in the stomach.
We wanted to find out more about how ID-Cap works and what etectRx is doing to bring this technology to market. We spoke with Harry Travis, President and CEO of etectRx, who gave us a quick summary of what his company is up to.
Medgadget: Before we discuss etectRx technology, can you give us an overview of the problem your company is trying to solve?
Harry Travis: The problem we are trying to solve is patients not taking their medication as prescribed. This is known as medication non-adherence, and it is a major problem resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of additional costs to the healthcare system.
Medgadget: How does the ID-Cap technology work?
Travis: The ID-Cap is swallowed with the patient’s medicine and, when it dissolves in the stomach, it sends a very weak radio signal to a small reader that the patient keeps with them. The reader then sends the message to a special app on the patient’s smartphone. The app then alerts the patient’s pharmacist or physician that the patient has taken their medication.
Medgadget: Where does the capsule get the electric power necessary to transmit the signals it emits?
Travis: The ID-Cap creates a very small amount of power by combining two inert elements with the fluids in your stomach.
Medgadget: What information do the radio signals coming from an ingested pill contain within them?
Travis: The only information transferred is that the ID-Capsule sends a positive signal that indicates ingestion.
Medgadget: How do you ensure that the non-digestible components don’t cause side effects and are expelled properly?
Travis: etectRx has completed multiple NIH sponsored clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the ID-Cap system.
Medgadget: Who do you see as your customers? Pharma companies, physicians, insurance firms, or patients?
Travis: All of the above are very interested in improving patients’ adherence to their prescribed medication regimen and, depending on the specific drug or therapy, could be our potential customers.
Medgadget: What does your firm need to do and prove before you can obtain the necessary regulatory approvals?
Travis: We need to continue to build our database of clinical experience and compile our data in the format necessary to complete a 510(k) application for the FDA some time in mid-2018.