Updates on Medication Adherence Technology Advancements (October)
Medication Adherence News
These past few weeks have seen some noteworthy announcements in the medication adherence space using digital health technology that are worth mentioning I feel at this time. So, this roundup will focus on several companies and press releases that have come out.
Hero Smart Pill Dispenser Goes Live
When I created my list of digital health companies in the medication adherence space, I had added Hero, though at the time there was little information. Well, the site had been undergoing some revisions, and now it is back up and running with a different look, which is probably the case since it just received $12 Million in funding. In any event, Hero is now available for mass purchase at $299 + app subscription.
Details of the device are now available, including the fact that is is one touch-dispensing machine that can hold up to 10 medications at a time. This is a right amount for a person with several chronic conditions I feel - though for patients with a high polypharmacy count would not be viable. What is perhaps most interesting is how the device is intended to work, with the patient using their synced app to identify when medications are low in Hero, and then medications being filled and delivered by a pharmacy to the patient (called the Hero Fill system), which is all supposed to be complimentary. However, there is limited information on the pharmacy conducting the fill and pricing available for the drugs are comparable.
Hero hopes its system of creating a regimen that patients can change based on their habits can help improve adherence. The added benefit of patients caregivers also seeing when the patient takes the medication and timing is probably another added benefit, though it must be seen as to whether Hero can stand out amongst this growing market.
We have another smart medication dispenser to talk about, but this time it's meant to garter the opioid epidemic market. Ethimedix, a Swiss-based company, is developing an intelligent programmable device to help lock-out medication doses when not needed to prevent misuse/abuse by the patient. Interestingly, Ethimedix had submitted this device to the FDA's recent Innovation Challenge focused on opioid use disorders.
Now then, when I heard about this device, I was taken aback, to be honest. I had expected a smart lockout device to similar ones I have identified int he past, but Ethimedix is taking this to the next level. You see, what they have made is a drinkable adherence device. It is pre-loaded with liquid morphine and can dispense anywhere between 5-15ml (and able to hold up to 1-Liter of liquid). The patient would scan their finger on a biometric authenticator on the top of it eh device, to identify and keep track who is taking a dose of medication, because Ethimedix has made it a point that this device could be used not just for one patient, but multiple users (likely in some healthcare environment). Their target audience at this time appears to be post-operative patients and those in chronic or palliative pain situations. I am unsure who would fill this thing at this time, whether the in-hospital pharmacy (where the company states this device is supposed to be small enough and portable for patients to transfer) or delivered by a pharmacy.
In any event, this delivery system seems unique, and I could see some promise in certain situations. Apparently, Ethemedix has been piloting the device for the past 18-months at a hospital in Paris and used in neurosurgery, urology, and orthopedics groups. It appears to be used primarily on service, as a medication dispensing device for cart use, with no data for outpatient utilization. It is not available in the US at this time, though they seem to want to break into the market, and I really do not know the reception it would receive as oral morphine is not exactly a drug that springs to mind of high usability at this time. At this point, I dub this device the Water Cooler for Morphine.
Well, I have to preface this by saying I am currently working on a more in-depth article on all things related to Medisafe, but a recent news piece really caught my fancy. In essence, Medisafe is aligning itself with life science 'partners' (i.e., Pharma). They plan on helping in areas such as medication adherence (especially for the partners brand), increase engagement with the brands' therapy, and giving insights on patients utilization. I plan on adding more to this once I get the full piece on Medisafe published and my thoughts on where this may go shortly.
Finally, this bit of news really caught my attention. Now, I've known Phillips to be dabbling in the adherence space for quite some time, but the news that they are looking to team up with Ypsomed to bring in other adherence technology into healthcare was rather exciting. Ypsomed SmartServices features the custom creation of smart sensors in multiple areas, such as diabetes currently. I will not be surprised if this collaboration leads to other sensor exploration in the realms of injectables and inhaler devices shortly depending on the route Phillips wants to go - which will likely be based on ongoing and future pharma partnerships.
Well, that concludes my round-up, let me know if I missed anything of note!