Taking medication wrongly is a huge problem, resulting in more than 150,000 people dying unnecessarily in both North America and in Europe every year. The cost to US society is more than $120 Billion every year. In the USA, 23% of nursing home admissions (380,000 patients) and 10% of hospital admissions (3.5 million patients) are due to non compliance. Indeed about 45% of patients take their medication wrongly, one malign effect being that drug trials use 45% corrupt data, except where, recently, smart packs are used that link the pack to the patient by RFID and record which pill was taken when. With pots of pills that is done with load cells - eg Aardex of Switzerland - and with blisterpacks it is done with printed sensors - eg Information Mediary and Cypak. However, a more elegant, lower cost approach is now available from Compliers Group in the Netherlands where a lower cost laminate can transform any blisterpack into a compliance monitoring device.
The latest information on this approach was given at the IDTechEx Printed Electronics conference in Dresden Germany. It is of great interest to the $1.2 trillion pharmaceutical industry because there is no increase in the output of new drugs despite fivefold increase in investment in research. By contrast, much greater volumes of existing drugs can be sold if patients can be assisted in taking them correctly. That is part of a virtuous circle of more patients getting better too. Indeed, it is non-linear. Patients failing to take AIDS drugs correctly 6% of the time reduce effectiveness by 50%.
Compliers Group sees its smart laminate as only part of a series of networked devices providing better healthcare and reducing money wasted in healthcare.
Because today's product is only partially printed and volumes are modest, it costs several dollars and is only used in drug trials but one day, the fully printed product will be in every home, often with displays, sound and light to give prompts.