What's the Latest Development?

A new microchip, designed to be implanted beneath a patient's skin and release medication automatically, is being called the dawn of telemedicine. In a recent study, the microchip was implanted in eight postmenopausal women, under the skin around their bellies. "Daily doses of teriparatide were preprogrammed to release for about 20 days during the middle of the trial." Because the chip releases medicine automatically, rates of noncompliance could be greatly reduced, a particular problem among patients of 'silent' diseases like osteoporosis.

What's the Big Idea?

Reducing noncompliance rates could prove a significant economic boon. Bone breakage among osteoporosis patients is estimated to reach costs of about $20 billion annually by 2015. And if the chip continues to succeed in clinical trials, it could be adapted to many medical purposes, such as monitoring patients' hearts and releasing muscle strengthening medication when signs of an impending heart attack appear. The chip would also allow doctors to adjust medication levels, depending on patient response, from afar.

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