A cure for medication errors has been elusive, but a drug dispensing system under development holds promise. The IntelliDrug system, ultimately a false tooth with a built-in pump for drug delivery, is expected to deliver drugs more efficiently and address many of the human factors blamed for errors.
As reported by the Associated Press recently, researchers in Europe and Israel, funded by the European Union, are working on a tiny drug-dispensing system that goes into a person’s mouth. The goal is eventually shrinking the parts small enough to fit into a replacement molar at the back of the mouth. One ergonomic benefit of the device, as its designers envision, is precision. An exact dosage can be delivered at exact intervals, removing much of the potential for errors by fatigued, distracted, forgetful or careless humans.
The unit can be removed from the mouth periodically for a technician to refill the drug reservoir, clean the system and replace the battery if needed.
Dr. Andy Wolff, an Israeli dentist who initially came up with the concept, noted in the AP article that patients, on average, follow instructions on taking drugs only half the time. Even people who need them to survive are not always as careful as they should be, he said. Dr. Wolff explained that people often forget or find it inconvenient to take medicine during the night. The automation designed into the device takes care of these human factors.
Delivery of the drug into the bloodstream is also more efficient. By placing the device in the mouth, the drug passes directly into the bloodstream through the lining of the cheek and around the mouth. At the same time, saliva mixes with the drug and carries it to the lining more consistently than just swallowing a pill every few hours.
The developers are aiming to have a prototype of the IntelliDrug system ready for human testing by the end of 2007.
Source: Associated Press