Medical device manufacturers are increasingly developing technologies designed to monitor patients’ adherence to medication schedules. By increasing the level of monitoring, the hope is that patients will be more likely to take their prescribed medications at the appropriate times.
Medication adherence is a substantial issue, with healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies constantly looking for ways to improve patient behavior. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 15 and 30 percent of US patients do not adhere to their course of treatment; this results in $100 billion to $289 billion in healthcare-related costs in the US annually.
Insulet is a medical device maker that manufacturers small, adhesive patches – called OmniPods – capable of subcutaneously administering certain drugs. According to Daniel Levangie, EVP and president of Insulet Drug Delivery, 80,000 patients in the US and Europe are currently using the device to manage their type 1 diabetes.
“The initial intent was to deliver medication for type 1 diabetes patients,” said Levangie. “It’s automated. Patients never have to inject themselves. It’s discrete and controlled by a handheld device to allow patients to adjust their basal rate.”
Another medical device manufacturer – Proteus Digital Health – has developed an ingestible sensor designed to be used in combination with a prescription drug. Once the sensor reaches the stomach, it’s able to transmit data – including a timestamp of when the medication was taken – to an external monitoring device.
Both Insulet and Proteus have partnered with drugmakers in order to integrate their technology and improve market uptake. In collaboration with Amgen, Insulet developed Onpro, a device designed to help patients receiving an immunity-boosting drug called Neulasta.
Insulet’s Onpro allows for automatic infusion of the drug, 27 hours after a patient has received chemotherapy treatment. This device reduces the frequency of doctor’s visits, and improves patient adherence as it does not require patient input to dose the drug.
“Clearly, it’s a much more convenient way of administering Neulasta,” said Levangie. “Now that the patient can use the device, we should expect substantial improvement in adherence. This would obviate the need to go back to the clinic for a dose.”
According to Amgen, by the end of 2015 approximately 25 percent of all Neulasta doses were administered using the Onpro system. As adherence to a medication schedule is important for the proper functioning of almost all drugs, medication adherence monitors are sure to be a lasting trend in the medical devices space.