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Philips Unveils "Intelligent Pill" for Digestive Tract Diseases

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | November 18, 2008
Philips iPill
Philips has developed an "intelligent pill" with a microprocessor, battery, wireless radio, pump and medication reservoir that releases medicine into the digestive tract. The size of a capsule, the "iPill" is designed to pass through the digestive tract naturally and treat diseases such as Crohn's disease, colitis, and colon cancer.

The capsule determines where in the digestive tract it should go by measuring the local acidity levels in the stomach. Then it releases medicine from its drug reservoir via a microprocessor controlled pump, allowing accurate, programmable drug delivery. In addition, the capsule is designed to measure local temperature and report this information wirelessly to an external receiver unit.

Delivering drugs directly to the location needed means that patients can take lower doses of a drug, reducing its side effects, Philips said.

The company planned to present its Intelligent Pill prototype at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in Atlanta Tuesday. Philips said the product is ready to hit the market.

"We foresee that technologies like the "iPill", which combine electronics with diagnostic and therapeutic properties, will open up the possibility of targeting almost any kind of drug to a specific location in the intestinal tract," said Dr. Karsten Cremer of Pharma Concepts GMbH, Basel, Switzerland.

"In 2001, the first camera pill was approved by the FDA for diagnostic applications. Now, seven years later, for the first time, Philips researchers will present its "iPill" technology--the second generation camera pill," the company said.