Many people take expensive daily medication to help manage different medical problems. However, medication can stay in the body for weeks, even months at a time, and researchers have proven that one day slow releasing capsules may take over the market replacing the need for daily pills.
The study, which was published in Science Translational Medicine, seeks to solve a variety of issues within healthcare. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, a monthly or weekly tablet could drastically reduce the cost associated with expensive daily medication. Reducing pills to once a week would already eliminate the need to purchase 313 pills.
The medication can also help those in rural areas of the United States and abroad who may not have access to reliable transportation or medical care. This way, they can manage medical issues without having to return for more medication or the possibility of not being able to afford their next dosage.
Lastly, the pills would be a life-saver for those with psychiatric conditions who often skip their medications when they are feeling better, or those who suffer with memory loss and cannot be relied upon to take their daily pills.
The prototype for the pill is shaped like a star, with six arms, and encased in a capsule that can be swallowed. The star then eventually opens up in the stomach and releases slowly, over the course of a week or month. When all of the medication has been absorbed, the body then eliminates it.
It big enough to release slowly, but too small to cause a blockage or similar problems.
The prototype was tested on pigs, where it was found to work incredibly well.
They are now working on pills to help combat malaria in regions where it is still a public health concern. However, they plan to expand to many different types of drugs.
Andrew M. Bellinger, MD, PhD, said of the exciting innovation:
“[T]his is the first demonstration of an oral ultra-long-acting drug delivery system. There are drug delivery systems that can achieve long-lasting effects, but they are all injectable or implantable or involve some other invasive procedure. This really opens up a new way for patients to start taking their medicine and to think about their medicine and their disease, and that’s really what got us excited about the project and about the potential to make an impact.”