Instead of taking a pill a day, what if you could take one pill that lasted 16 years? That’s the premise for a new project funded by the Gates Foundation, which looks at innovative ways to deliver drugs into the body. A single smart capsule could release drugs into a patient’s body over the span of years, and respond to remote wireless signals if doctors want to alter or halt the treatment.
The most immediate use could be a smarter replacement to the standard birth control pill. The Gates Foundation project looks to develop a pill that would automatically release a contraceptive hormone into the bloodstream, lasting for 16 years or until it’s disabled by a wireless signal. The project is planning to start preclinical testing in 2015 and reach the market in 2018, but there are still many questions to be answered, including security issues. Earlier this year, the FDA issued a warning that most medical devices were vulnerable to hacking, and remote-control drug delivery could present a dangerous new line of attack if manufacturers do not take proper precautions.