From mobile applications to igestible devices, here are the products that innovated the industry this year.
Pharmacy has never been more about information and service, and less about dispensing, than in 2018. Pharma has had a banner year of new drug approvals, but the real news is in areas like locking prescription vials, medication regimen risk scores, apps to reduce drug misuse, nonmedication pain relief, and wearable monitoring/sensing devices-most developed by nonpharmacists. Here’s a quick look at some of the top products that moved the profession ahead in the past 12 months.
Locking Prescription Vials
Would you take your bike out without a lock? No. So why would you expect patients to take their opioids and other theft-worthy meds out of the pharmacy without a lock? Safe Rx has created locking prescription vials based on a 4-number combination bike lock that can be used for direct dispensing (18 dram), or to secure traditional Rx vials (60 dram) inside. The locking vials can still be broken open, but it’s tough to ‘borrow’ a pill without knowing the combination. Furthermore, youngsters are less likely to get into a locking vial than a conventional child-resistant container.
Medication Risk Score
Consumers are familiar with FICO, a credit risk score. Tabula Rasa Healthcare has created a similar Medication Risk Score to assess which patients are at highest risk for adverse drug events (ADEs) and require the most immediate medication management attention. The score is based on the active ingredients in a patient’s entire medication profile, including OTCs. About 20% of patients 65 and older have a risk score of 20 or higher, putting them at high or very high risk for ADEs. In fact, 7% to 10% of patients age 64 and younger have similar risk levels.
Apps to Reduce Drug Misuse
OpiSafe was created by RxAssurrance Inc. to help prescribers determine patients’ risk for potential opioid abuse before writing that first script. The app assesses pain, function, opioid misuse risk, comorbid depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders to provide morphine equivalent dosing information and risk stratification based on patient-specific parameters.
Robots Remind Us to Take Meds
As former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, famously noted: drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them. Enter Pillo, a healthcare companion robot that reminds patients to take their scheduled medications. The countertop device uses voice-first technology, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence to proactively engage adults with chronic conditions in conversation to improve medication adherence and deliver personalized health reminders
Automated Pill Tracking
The first FDA-approved digital pill that automatically tracks ingestion rolled out earlier this year. Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole, Otsuka) combines a schizophrenia and bipolar disorder medication with wireless tracking by Proteus Digital Health. The Ingestible Event Marker (IEM) sensor is about the size of a grain of sand and is made of food product ingredients. The sensor’s magnesium and cuprous chloride components react with stomach acid and send an electronic signal to a wearable sensor patch to verify ingestion. Otsuka and Proteus are collaborating on an expanded portfolio of digital medications focused on mental health.
Apps to Track Drug Shortages
Is it your wholesaler or is that medication really in short supply? RxShortages knows the difference. The app combines data from both FDA and ASHP drug lists. This free open-source app tells you what you need to know about shortages as they are reported, trends, and the latest information on specific drugs. Available in the iTunes Store and Android Market and more information at mickschroeder.com/rxshortages.
Pain Relief Devices Instead of Medications
Patients who don’t want conventional pain relief medications or who do not respond well may be able to switch to a pain relief device. Quell, by NeuroMetrix, uses neurostimulation to relieve chronic back, arthritic, nerve, let, and foot pain. The FDA-approved device is strapped to the appropriate place on the body, and an app helps track pain management and sleep patterns that may be disrupted by chronic pain. Patients in a clinical study reported a two-thirds reduction in pain levels and wore the device an average of 35 hours per week. Other devices use peripheral nerve stimulation through an implanted electrode (SPRINT PNS, StimRouter) and virtual reality (BreatheVR for Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Go) to help with deep breathing and medication exercises
Stick-on UV Exposure Sensors
It can be hard to convince patients that sun exposure adds up. L’Oreal introduced UV Sense and My UV Patch, the world’s first battery-free wearable electronic UV exposure meters earlier this year. The sensors are available under the La Roche-Posay brand. The sensors are small enough to sit on a thumbnail. The devices are powered by the user’s mobile phone using conventional near-field communication technology. The accompanying app tracks UV exposure and recommends appropriate action such as reapplying sun screen. The My UV Patch uses photosensitive dyes that will alter coloration when exposed to UV radiation.
First came FitBits, Apple Watches, and other wearable sensors. Now it’s TempTraq®, a stick-on thermometer that tracks body temperature. Originally developed for infants, the patch continuously measures body temperatures and transmits to your phone via Bluetooth. The patch works just as well for adults who want to see if they have a fever. The flexible patch can be worn for up to 48 hours.