eLucid gets US patents for smart pill dispenser device

Health tech firm eLucid mHealth has been granted a pair of US patents for its recently-launched Pill Connect, a smart device that aims to tackle the problem of non-adherence to medicines.

The patents (numbers 9,984,213 and 10,224,116) are the first to be awarded for Manchester, UK-based eLucid in the US, and come a few months after the launch of Pill Connect was formally announced. Three more patents are in progress, it says.

The smartphone-enabled device automatically dispenses a pill when patients respond to a reminder via an iPhone or Android app, and additional reminders are sent by text or phone call if the patient misses a dose. It also includes a remote locking system to guard against double dosing, which is a common problem in the elderly.

The device and app – which are designed for use either in the community or clinical trial setting – also provides the doctor or clinical investigator with data on a patient’s adherence pattern.

The dispenser mechanism and electronics are designed to fit onto a standard pill bottle and can handle up to 30 tablets of varying shapes and sizes, according to eLucid, which completed a clinical trial with the device earlier this year.

The 10-patient trial tested the system over 13 days, initially dispensing a twice-daily dose and building up to 12 pills a day, and found that 91% of doses (486 capsules) were dispensed successfully.

Furthermore, 97% of dispenses delivering the correct quantity of medication and 98% of successful dispenses were registered on the remote monitoring system.

To put that into context, a 2018 National Institute of Health (NIH) study found that in developed countries, the percentage of prescribed doses taken averaged around 50% for chronic illnesses.

eLucid’s chief executive James Burnstone said that lessons learned from the trial means that the company is now confident that its latest smart bottle will achieve greater than 99% reliability.

“We are delighted with the progress we have made and the interest from so many CROs and pharma companies,” he added.

The new US patents cover the dispensing methodology, the link to a mobile phone and tracking and recording of each dispense.

Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimate that poor adherence to medicines contributes to nearly 200,000 premature deaths in Europe per year, at an estimated cost of €125 billion from avoidable hospitalisations, emergency care, and outpatient visits.  The corresponding figure in the US is $105 billion, according to the report.

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