For a long time, drugs have been thought of a chemically-based products one pops when ill, but they are about to become much more than that, as the fledgling age of digital medicine is upon us.
That’s the conviction of David O’Reilly, Chief Platform Officer of Proteus Digital Health, Redwood City, CA, the company which pioneered Ablilfy Mycite®, a drug-device combination product of Otsuka’s aripiprazole embedded with Proteus’ ingestible sensor, granted an NDA approval by the FDA. Speaking during Tuesday morning’s keynote session at the Medical Sensors Design Conference in San Jose, O’Reilly said the definition of what a drug is has changed over the past 100 years and will likely change over the next 100 years as technology advances.
Tracing the history of drugs from substances extracted from plants to the heavily formulated brand name drugs common today, O’Reilly asserted that major changes in how drugs are formulated and dispensed are needed because many patients are not taking prescribed doses.
Citing statistics in the U.S., O’Reilly said that 20 to 30 percent of drugs prescribed by medical personnel are never filled. “Fifty percent of patients don’t take medicines according to the advice provided, and 23 percent of Americans with chronic conditions stop taking medications without consulting providers. Overall, 53 percent of prescriptions will not be taken long term.”
O’Reilly called for drugs to “become more personal, to be backed up by data and analytics, and to drive a dialogue with family members and medical care providers.”
In O’Reilly’s vision, drugs need to generate feedback as when patients took drugs and how taking those drugs affected his or her life. This information can in turn help medical personnel tailor a more customer-centered drug dosage regime that answers how the drug and usage behavior is linked to an outcome.
O’Reilly’s company, Proteus Digital, developed the first digital medicine offering, called Proteus Discover, which comprises the ingestible sensors, a small wearable sensor patch, an application on a mobile device, and a provider portal. The ingestible sensor triggers a data flow that provides additional insight into patient health patterns and medical treatment effectiveness.
Armed with this information, patient care teams can determine if certain patients need additional support between clinical visits, according to O’Reilly. He added that one trial study on patients who took the digital form of the medicine showed that after 12 weeks, compliance with recommended dosage was 98 percent, compared to just 51 percent for the conventionally administered medicine.
O’Reilly said Proteus has been researching digital medicine for various medical areas, including infectious diseases, oncology, and cardiology. He was confident that the concept of digital medicine would turn often adversarial patient attitudes toward drug use into a more therapeutic outcome, where patients feel they have a stake in monitoring and improving their own health.
“The rewards will be healthier futures for people,” O’Reilly said.