It's a "pill" as big as a grain of sand and it could also mean huge profits for Big Pharma companies in the not-too-distant future.
You see, each year millions of American s throw away tons of unused drugs. What happens is they start feeling better and just stop taking their meds. Eventually those pills get tossed in the trash can.
No one seems to know the full dollar value of all those unused drugs but many experts say this waste costs Big Pharma millions in profits in lost refills.
Not only that, but doctors around the world worry about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria which also stems from patients not taking their full regimen of antibiotics.
It's why doctors always tell their patients to take all their antibiotics even after they feel better. Otherwise, the few germs that manage to survive become more powerful and thwart the effects of stronger drugs taken at larger doses.
Enter a tiny new startup called Proteus Digital Health Inc. The company has developed a new electronic sensor that could transform the way millions of Americans manage their drug intake.
The move puts Proteus front and center in the hot new field of "microchip medicine."
Experts call it that because patients either swallow a microchip that releases doses into the bloodstream or ingest a small medical monitor like the one Proteus makes.
Proteus has the backing of a dozen firms. They include:
- Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), one of the world's biggest drug makers.
- Medtronic Inc. (NYSE: MDT), a big-cap medical device firm.
- Kaiser Permanente Ventures, the venture arm of the large HMO.
- On Semiconductor (NASDAQ: ONNN), a mid-cap maker of chips and other devices.