‘SMART PILLS’: Enhanced Delivery May Lower Rx Costs
A medical development to watch: DepoMed Inc., a Foster City, CA- based biotech company, is testing new technology that enhances the efficiency of drug absorption in the stomach and the blood stream. DepoMed officials say that so-called "smart pills" may double or even triple the effectiveness of certain drugs, meaning patients could take fewer pills and hence pay lower medication costs and be less vulnerable to side effects. The company is currently focused on improving absorption for calcium pills, aspirin and antibiotics. In its tests of traditional calcium pills, DepoMed found that patients receive less than one-fifth of the medicine's potential benefit, with the rest simply passing through the body. Similarly, antibiotics and a variety of other drugs "frequently deliver only a fraction of their benefits through pills." The company is entering human trials on calcium "smart pills" and hopes to bring the product to market next year. Though a partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb fell through last April, DepoMed is currently working on signing key affiliations with other pharmaceutical firms to market its pill technology (Simmers, Alameda Times-Star, 10/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.