‘Pharmacy on a chip’ gets closer


Jonathan Amos

By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News, Vancouver

Implant device

The futuristic idea that microchips could be implanted under a patient’s skin to control the release of drugs has taken another step forward.

US scientists have been testing just such a device on women with the bone-wasting disease osteoporosis.

The chip was inserted in their waist and activated by remote control.

A clinical trial, reported in Science Translational Medicine, showed the chip could administer the correct doses and that there were no side effects.

The innovation has also been discussed here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

One of the designers, Prof Robert Langer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), claimed the programmable nature of the device opened up fascinating new avenues for medicine.

“You could literally have a pharmacy on a chip,” he said. “This study used the device for the treatment of osteoporosis. However, there are many other applications where this type of microchip approach could improve treatment outcomes for patients, such as multiple sclerosis, vaccine delivery, for cancer treatment and for pain management.”

The work is described as the first in-human testing of a wirelessly controlled drug delivery microchip. The technology at its core has been in development for more than 15 years.

Read the rest of the Article HERE


MedApps and MedMinder Partner to Expand Medication Compliance in the Remote HealthCare Market

Solutions’ Ease of Use – Key to Adoptability and Patient Adherence


Scottsdale, AZ- Jan 9, 2012– MedApps, Inc., a leading mHealth (mobile telehealth) innovator is pleased to announce its alliance with MedMinder to bring connected, remote medication management to MedApps’ product and service offerings of flexible ScalableCare services.


Both companies have led the way in their respective areas of expertise within the telehealth market with affordable, easy to use, patient-centered remote monitoring solutions.


“Our partnering with MedMinder is very synergistic and our products compliment each other extremely well”, says Kent Dicks, Founder and CEO of MedApps. “The challenge with any prescribed therapy for patient care is compliance – whether that’s a patient taking their blood pressure or glucose readings on a daily basis, or taking their medication when they’re supposed to – and if it doesn’t get done, the caregivers’ efforts to manage patient conditions are ineffective.”


Dicks continues, “Our clients’ satisfaction has validated the fact that we’ve gone a long way in helping doctors and nurses gather the accurate and timely biometric data they need to more effectively mange patient health – and we think that MedMinder provides an equally valuable solution for the medication management side of things.”


Like MedApps, MedMinder provides products designed to keep patients connected to their care providers with a focus on ease of use to ensure a high degree of adoptability from the patient. MedMinder offers a unique solution to medication compliance through its “smart cellular pillbox”: Maya. On the surface, Maya appears to be an ordinary daily pill organizer, but it’s fully loaded with innovative features that effectively, yet simply enable medication management.


MedMinder pill dispenser can track patients’ dosage activity and deliver optional medication reminders or alerts to the user if medication is not taken within an assigned timeframe or if an incorrect medication compartment is inadvertently accessed. Additional options allow the patient’s family and care providers to be contacted if necessary to offer a more cohesive support system. MedMinder keeps records of patient medication activities and can provide access to reports for the user, their family and their caregivers via the Internet, email and text notification.


Combining MedMinders’ capabilities with MedApps’ supply of consistent, near-real time biometric data will deliver the most robust coordinated solution for medication management on the market.  Clinicians will have the ability to ascertain the effects of a given medication for an individual patient more rapidly – making adjustments and / or intervening when necessary.


“We are very excited about partnering with MedApps and integrating into their remote health monitoring platform – they are a true innovator in the field, said MedMinder Founder and CEO Eran Shavelsky.  “The companies’ philosophies of providing simple to use, transparent technology is a perfect fit. Our solutions’ ability to cost-effectively improve medication adherence and deliver a consistent supply of clinical and behavioral data will be unparalleled in medication management.”


This latest product offering is another illustration of the dynamic and scalable integration that is made possible by the MedApps CloudCare™ platform. MedApps has built a unique infrastructure for health information delivery that allows a variety of OEM devices to be integrated into a remote monitoring program very quickly with a minimum of coordination time.  CloudCare delivers the first true “Plug & Play” platform in the telehealth field.




About MedMinder


MedMinder provides technologies to enable seniors, the chronically ill, and those with disabilities to maintain their independence and avoid long-term care facilities and hospitalization. MedMinder medication management system includes a cellular pill dispenser that records user activity then reports to the MedMinder back end system. Accordingly, MedMinder provides reminders to the users to take their pills on time and informs families and care managers if dosages are missed. MedMinder technology is proven to simplify medication management and improve medication adherence. For more information, visit www.medminder.com



About MedApps


MedApps provides innovative technology solutions for the collection, transmission and remote management of patient health data. MedApps utilizes wireless and machine-to-machine technologies, hardware, software, and cloud computing to efficiently connect patients with their care providers and electronic health records. MedApps is an acknowledged innovator in the field of remote health monitoring, most recently recognized with a 2011 Edison Award in the product category of Health, Wellness & Safety. MedApps is a member of Continua, an industry consortium setting Medical Device Interoperability Standards worldwide. For more information, please visit www.medapps.com.


Government should do more to help people who use online health services

12 October 2010

The Government should do more to help people find trustworthy health websites and use online health services safely and effectively, says a new report on the ethics of ‘personalised healthcare’. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics warns that whilst online health information and services are convenient to use and extend choice, they could mislead, confuse or create unnecessary anxiety for the people who use them.

To minimise these potential harms the Council is calling on the Government to set up an accreditation scheme for online health record providers, for DNA testing and body scanning services to be better regulated, and for doctors to receive training on advising patients who use the internet to look for health information and to buy medicines online.

“The internet is now often the first port of call for people to find out more about their health. People need to know where they can get accurate health information, how to buy medicines online safely, and how any personal information about their health posted online might be used,” said Professor Christopher Hood, chair of the Working Party that produced the report.

The report also looks at direct-to-consumer personal DNA testing services that claim to predict your risk of developing diseases in future, and body scanning services which are offered to healthy people as a check-up. These services are promoted and can be booked online.

“The results of personal DNA testing and body scanning are often hard to interpret, unreliable and may cause people unnecessary anxiety,” says Professor Hood. “Better regulation is needed to ensure people are fully aware of the limitations of these services.”

The report, which considers a range of new technologies and services that are promised by their providers as offering more ‘personalised healthcare’, makes a number of recommendations for policy. In each case, the need to protect people from harm and the need to protect people’s personal information is weighed up against the need to give people freedom to make their own choices.

Health information websites

“We recommend that all websites offering health information and advice should state where the information originates and what it is based upon, who wrote it, and how the author or organisation is funded. Advertisements for medicines and products should also be clearly distinguished from other types of information,” said Professor Hood.

The Council concludes that the best websites for people to use when looking for health advice are based on high quality peer-reviewed research, from independent not-for-profit organisations, and are independently evaluated and continuously updated.

It says the NHS websites and the websites of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) generally meet these criteria.

In 2009 an Oxford Internet Survey found that in 2007 and 2009, 68% of British internet users had used the internet to look up health information.

Online pharmacies

The Council endorses Great Britain’s registration scheme for online pharmacies but recommends that the Government should make more information about it available, as people don’t always know that the scheme exists.

“Britain is leading the way when it comes to online pharmacies and patient safety, but there is nothing stopping people buying medicines from internet pharmacies based in other countries that are not regulated in the same way,” said Professor Nikolas Rose, one of the authors of the report.

“If you choose to buy medicines from a website that is not certified in the same way as registered online pharmacies in the UK, you risk buying harmful, fake or low quality products. You could also miss out on advice from doctors and pharmacists about adverse effects and interactions with other medicines you may be taking.” added Professor Rose.

The Council recommends that the UK registration scheme should be mirrored elsewhere in order to restrict the sale of medicines, including antibiotics, over the internet.

In 2008 approximately two million people in Great Britain were regularly purchasing pharmaceuticals online, both with a prescription from registered UK pharmacies and without prescriptions from other websites. A 2009 survey found that more than one in seven adults asked had bought a prescription-only medicine online without a prescription.

Online health records

Online health record services such as Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault allow people to create an account for storing information about their current and past health problems. The full versions of these services enable people to share their data with doctors and other service providers, although this is only offered in the US at present. The NHS currently intends to offer people in England an online summary of their health records through its HealthSpace website.

“These services could give people a convenient way of taking more control of their health records. However, it is paramount that people are fully aware of how their personal information is going to be stored and used before they sign up,” said Professor Hood.

The Council recommends that Governments should set up an accreditation system for online health record providers to improve transparency and standards on how personal information is stored and used. Companies should also establish systems to safeguard the confidentiality of data if they change ownership or go into administration.

Direct-to-consumer personal genetic profiling services

Direct-to-consumer personal genetic profiling services are often marketed online to healthy people as a way of finding out their risk of developing serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and some cancers, through the analysis of a DNA sample they provide.

“Commercial genetic profiling services may seem to be providing more choice to consumers, but the test results can be unreliable and difficult to interpret and they are offered to people with little or no genetic counselling or support” said Professor Rose.

“People should be aware that other than prompting obvious healthy lifestyle choices such as taking more exercise, eating a balanced diet and reducing alcohol consumption, the tests are unlikely to inform them of any specific disease risks that can be significantly changed by their behaviour.”

Currently there is no overarching system of regulation for personal genetic profiling. The Council says that claims that these services are leading to a new era of ‘personalised healthcare’ are overstated and should be treated with caution. It recommends that regulators of these services should request more evidence from companies to back up the claims they make about the predictive value of their tests.

Direct-to-consumer body scans

The report also considers direct-to-consumer CT, MRI and ultrasound body scans as a form of ‘health check-up’ for people without pre-existing symptoms.

Whole body CT scans carry serious physical risks from the radiation involved. The Council says that the commercial sale of whole body CT scans as a health check for people without prior symptoms of illness should be banned, as any potential benefits do not justify the potential harms caused by the radiation.

The scans may be hard to interpret and they often show up ‘abnormalities’ which are actually harmless, but which could lead to undue anxiety or further tests or treatments which carry risks. The report also recommends that GPs should receive specific training on giving advice to patients about direct-to-consumer body imaging services, and about making referral decisions on the basis of these tests.

Encouraging initial findings from a medication adherence study

The Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners Healthcare, announced Wednesday encouraging initial findings from a medication adherence study

BOSTON, MA, JUNE 23, 2010 — The Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners Healthcare, announced today encouraging initial findings from a medication adherence study, using a wireless electronic pill bottle to remind patients with high blood pressure to take their medication. The ongoing study measured a 27% higher rate of medication adherence in patients using Internet connected medication packaging and feedback services compared to controls.
The randomized controlled study assessed the impact of the wireless GlowCap developed by Vitality, Inc. GlowCaps fit popular pill bottles and signal patients with light and sound when it is time to take the medication inside. An embedded wireless connection enables the GlowCap to respond to the patient with automated calls for any missed dose, weekly progress reports, and refill reminders. GlowCaps also share adherence with physicians and a social network if the patient chooses.
“As healthcare providers, we must find strategies that help patients become more adherent to their medications and care plans,” said Alice Watson, MD, MPH, Center for Connected Health. “We are extremely encouraged by these interim results, showing a high rate of adherence in users of the GlowCap system.”
In total, one hundred and thirty nine patients diagnosed with hypertension and taking an antihypertensive medication were enrolled in a six month study starting in August 2009. Participants were required to have Internet access and an email account to receive reports. Each participant was randomized into one of three groups: those in the control group did not receive any communication or GlowCap services; the intervention group received visual and audio reminders from the GlowCap as well as missed dose reminder phone calls, medication refill reminders and progress reports emailed to the patient, family member and /or their primary care provider. Participants in an intervention-plus group additionally received a financial incentive if they exceeded a monthly adherence goal of 80%.
Three month interim analysis shows study participants in the intervention and intervention-plus group achieved adherence rates of 98% and 99%, respectively. This was significantly higher than the control group, which had an adherence rate of 71%. The study is also measuring blood pressure control and subject satisfaction. Final analysis of the study is anticipated this fall. “GlowCaps use real-time feedback loops to act on a number of behavioral motivators: reminders, doctor accountability, social support and help with refills,” said David Rose, Chief Executive Officer, Vitality. “These are  instructive findings for pharmaceutical manufacturers and payors who have a vested interest in improving patient outcomes with their products and services.”

Each year millions of people fail to take medications as prescribed by their physicians; the World Health Organization estimates that adherence to daily medication averages 50% for those suffering from chronic diseases. Numerous studies demonstrate that poor-adherence reduces the effectiveness of medications, jeopardizes patient health, and increases health care costs. Recent research, including work by the New England Healthcare Institute, calculates the costs resulting from non-adherence at $300 billion annually.

Cancer drug firm launched in Dundee

Pictured at today’s launch were minister Keith Brown, Sian Armour, Dr Jane Thompson (both

Ubiquigent) and Sir Philip Cohen.

A new company, backed by American money and tasked with the development of drugs to fight cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, was launched in Dundee today (writes Bruce Robbins).
Ubiquigent Ltd., which will benefit from a £3 million, three-year cash investment from its US parent company Stemgent Inc., will seek to benefit from the world-class research being done at the Scottish Institute for Cell Signalling at Dundee University.The new venture has already created three jobs and this is likely to increase to five this year and possibly 10 next year.

Scottish Government skills and lifelong learning minister Keith Brown, who was taken on a tour of the SCILLS labs today, described the announcement as an “excellent investment” for the city’s — and Scotland’s — life sciences sector.

He said, “Our pioneering research and technology is globally renowned. We have a clear academic lead in this field.

“The Scottish Government is fully committed to growing this sector and maximising the talent.

“This is why we met our manifesto commitment and invested £10 million to establish a life sciences institute in Dundee, the SCILLS unit, and provided £3 million to support the recruitment of up to 100 new apprentices within the life sciences sector last year.

“The world-class talent, skills and technology within the SCILLS unit at the University of Dundee is undoubtedly a huge factor in this move.”

Mr Brown added it would have been good had a Scottish private equity company been willing to provide the £3 million funding that is coming from America but it was a case of changing the investment culture in this country.

SCILLS is directed by Sir Philip Cohen and concentrates on an emerging area of cell signalling called protein ubiquitylation, which is said to have great potential for the development of drugs to treat cancer, inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases.

More on Cancer drug firm in Dundee

New website will offer online GP services to patients in Wales

Online GP services
Patients will be able to order their repeat prescriptions online

Patients in Wales will soon be able to book a GP appointment or order repeat prescriptions via an NHS website.
Funding of £1.7m has been announced for the bilingual My Health Online website by Health Minister Edwina Hart.
Website users will also be able to get advice and information to help them manage health conditions.
The British Medical Association said any development giving better access to information will be welcomed, but the system must be secure.
Once constructed the website My Health Online will link to the existing NHS Direct Wales website.
Ms Hart said: “The demand for online GP services is increasing and we recognise that providing accessible information is critical if we want to enable people to change their lifestyles and improve their health.
“The Welsh Assembly Government is also committed to improving access to health services for people living in rural communities. My Health Online will particularly save lengthy journeys to GP practices.
“The website will also help empower people to take responsibility for their own health through the completion of a health diary which can be shared with their GP.”

Click the link for more information about online GP services in Wales

Study: texting boosts compliance among teens


Adolescent nonadherence has presented a major challenge to healthcare professionals in transplantation and other medical fields, who for years have tried to address the issue with little success. But researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York recently published the results of a study showing that text messaging could make a big difference in the rate of adherence among young liver transplant patients.

Using a program called CareSpeak, the researchers issued text messages to a group of 41 pediatric liver transplant patients, according to a New York Times report. The text messages prompted the patients to take their medications, which ranged from one to three different pills once or twice a day.

Read more

Study: texting boosts compliance among teens

German researchers study the placebo effect

Placebo effect ‘starts in the spine’

“Research suggests that the placebo effect works, in part, by blocking pain signals in the spinal cord from arriving at the brain in the first place”, The Times reported. The newspaper said the spinal cords of 15 healthy volunteers had been scanned while they received laser ‘pinpricks’ to their hands.

Placebo study
Placebo study

An inactive cream was applied to both hands, but sometimes the subjects were told it was analgesic. The volunteers told they had been given a pain relief cream reported feeling 25% less pain and showed “significantly reduced activity in the spinal cord pathway that processes pain”.

This interesting small study highlights the powerful ‘placebo effect’ of suggestion. The 25% improvement in pain scores seen from the placebo effect is similar to the response seen in other studies on active versus placebo pills. This suggests that at least part of the effect can be explained by a neurological mechanism that is prompted by a belief in the effectiveness of a treatment.

The interest for scientists here is the imaging technique that made high resolution scans of this hard to reach area of the brain possible, and the confirmation that some sort of messaging from the brain to the spinal cord plays a role in pain control.

Read more about Placebo effect

Edinburgh pharmacist to offer heart checks on Cardiopod

The Evening News reported that Edinburgh pharmacists are to offer heart checks on the Cariopod.

Cardiopod in Edinburgh
Cardiopod in Edinburgh

Cardiopod in pharmacy
Cardiopod in pharmacy

Telehealth Solutions’ CardioPod is a system for facilitating the NHS Health Check.

CardioPod features:
• Can be installed on a small portable touchscreen device for community use
• Can be installed on a large touchscreen device for use in GP surgeries as well as pharmacies
• Comes complete with scales and phygmomanometer, to capture basic vital signs information.
An LDX blood chemistry analyser is available to provide a lipid profile and blood glucose measurement in less than five minutes.

What needed a lab test two years ago can now be carried out at the point of care! Health Checks can therefore always be completed in one sitting, so no hassles with follow-up appointments…and patients get instant feedback.  Information is uploaded to a secure database for appropriate analysis and review. If approved, the information will also be accessible from GP practice management systems.

Other benefits are substantial too:
• A big reduction in clerical time entering information
• Eliminates clerical errors
• The latest information is immediately available to clinicians.

…and it’s very patient-friendly. The touchscreen means that even those completely unfamiliar with keyboards
can answer the standard Health Check questions.
…and the output is very eye catching. The cardiovascular risk score is calculated using industry standard assessment tools, such as Qrisk®2 and shown in patient-friendly format using visuals to indicate
variances in risk levels.
…and the CardioPod facilitates and records the results of discussion with the patient on how they can improve their risk score, delivering a printout of their agreed actions for the patient to take away. This can also be stored on the secure server for follow-up when the next check is done.

Computers to help superbug fight

Powerful software which mimics the evolution of superbugs could help scientists tackle them more effectively, researchers hope.

Edinburgh University scientists have been working with computer models which could help develop more effective antibiotic treatments.

The study also encourages experts to pool their findings for a more reliable approach to bacteria growth.

To read more about this CLICK HERE