Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Pills + microelectronics = saved lives

The number of people losing their lives every year because they don't take their medicine properly is much higher than one might imagine. The human cost is also accompanied by a significant economic burden on society.
Pills + microelectronics = saved lives
Following a doctor's prescription for medication is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Consider the elderly, who often are on several different medications at the same time, or people with impaired vision who cannot read the directions, or those who can't read at all. Taking the wrong pill at the wrong time or forgetting to take one's medication entirely can have dire, sometimes fatal, consequences.

Packaging the pills with spoken directions could be a solution, but is it technically and economically feasible? This challenge was taken up in the context of the 'A low cost, environmentally friendly, smart packaging technology to differentiate European SME suppliers to service the needs of Europe's aging population' (Medi-voice) project.

The approach involved incorporating electronics into the pill packaging itself. Information regarding dosage amounts and frequency was stored directly with the medication. The patient is reminded to take their medication by messages emitted from a built-in speaker. Furthermore, compliance can be monitored by the patient's doctor.

Special moulding and packaging technologies were developed to make this concept possible. While attempts to deliver power from flexible photovoltaic cells were not yet successful, the thin films may in fact be suitable for other applications. The Medi-voice prototype was subsequently tested with the aid of the Royal National Institute of the Blind in the UK.

Response to the technology has been very positive, and the Medi-voice consortium is investigating how they can bring the product to the market. In addition to showcasing European knowhow in the field, the Medi-voice project outcomes can help save lives by making sure people take the right medicine at the right time.

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