Vitality’s Internet-Connected GlowCap Targets Behavior Change to Remind You to Stay on Meds

4/6/10Follow @xconomy

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start a pilot program with pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, which administers prescription drug programs. Express Scripts will supply thousands of patients with the Ethernet version of Vitality’s system until some time this summer. Rose says this big-scale distribution is more effective than selling to individual customers.

Several parties, beyond the patients and their families, stand to benefit when drugs are taken as often as a doctor’s prescription dictates. The reports generated by Vitality’s system help keep doctors in the loop on their patient’s behavior. Pharmacies profit from increased customer traffic the more often patients come in to refill prescriptions.

The GlowCaps system could also serve as a preventative medicine measure, helping insurance companies ultimately reduce expenses for patients whose illnesses worsen by not taking drugs as prescribed. But Rose is especially targeting pharmaceutical companies, who miss major revenue streams when patients take pills less often than they should. He said a drug such as Pfizer’s cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (Lipitor) currently brings in about $10 billion a year, but could have revenues as high as $17 billion annually if users took it as often as they were supposed to.

“It’s so much easier to make more money for a customer than save money for a customer,” Rose says of his rationale in focusing on drugmakers rather than insurers. He envisions charging pharmaceutical companies a monthly fee between $10 and $25 dollars per patient for supplying their medications using the Vitality system. He says this would be the cost of a few pills a month for many drugs, and could incite patients to take roughly 10 more pills a month, providing a handsome return on investment for the pharma companies.

This isn’t a foreign concept to drugmakers, Rose says. Much of the print and TV commercials you see from drug brands are already designed to encourage current patients to take their prescriptions more regularly, more so than attract completely new customers, Rose says. Drugmakers will always set aside money for these marketing purposes, but Rose hopes drug companies will ultimately choose his device, rather than advertising, as their main form of improving customer adherence.

Rose sees smart packaging for often-forgotten prescriptions as a sweeping public health solution. His ultimate goal is for his company’s pill cap system is to become the default packaging for prescription drugs that are known to have low adherence rates. In the same way that drugmakers can’t package a birth control pill in anything other than a dial pack that delineates what day the user must take the pill, Rose hopes the GlowCaps system will become a standard vessel for many meds.

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  • http://www.rezmelts.com/ Luany

    Oh wow, I’m gonna have to glowcap other aspects of my life.
    Not that multivitamins are as crucial as prescription meds, but I can apply it to that.

  • http://www.alterspark.com Brian Cugeman

    This seems like a great invention to help remind people to stick with their medication schedules. And it seems to be drawing on a number of good behavioural influence approaches, such as using reminders and social pressure. However, I imagine many people would be dealing with multiple medications, potentially on different schedules, which may complicate many applications.