(NaturalNews) The age of pharmaceutical microchipping is now upon us. Novartis AG, one of the largest drug companies in the world, has announced a plan to begin embedding microchips in medications to create "smart pill" technology.
The microchip technology is being licensed from Proteus Biomedical of Redwood City, California. Once activated by stomach acid, the embedded microchip begins sensing its environment and broadcasting data to a receiver worn by the patient. This receiver is also a transmitter that can send the data over the internet to a doctor.
The idea behind all this is to create "smart pills" that can sense what's happening in the body and deliver that information to the patient's doctor. Novartis plans to start microchipping its organ transplant anti-rejection drugs and then potentially expand microchipping to other pharmaceuticals in its product lineup. This same technology could soon end up in pills made by other drug companies, too.
The best laid plans...
It all sounds good on the surface, but NaturalNews readers no doubt have lots of skeptical questions about this technology. For starters, Novartis apparently isn't planning on conducting any clinical trials that might take into account the safety issues of swallowing microchips. "Novartis does not expect to have to conduct full-scale clinical trials to prove the new products work," reports Reuters. "Instead, it aims to do so-called bioequivalence tests to show they are the same as the original."(http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS)
But I have a question: What chemicals or heavy metals are contained in the microchip itself? A microchip that transmits data obviously must have a power source, meaning it needs to have a very small battery or capacitor of some sort. The materials used in capacitors and batteries, to my knowledge, are toxic to the human body and should never be eaten.
Microchips are not food, and to swallow them seems risky to your health, especially if you're swallowing several microchips per day.
Another huge concern with microchips that transmit data is data privacy. If these microchips are broadcasting information, then obviously that information can be picked up by anything nearby, including potentially unscrupulous individuals or organizations who might put it to a nefarious use.
For example, suppose a local pharmacy store installs a microchip signal detector in their main door entrance in order to track people who are broadcasting medication data. They could then theoretically decode that data and use it to determine what health condition that customer might be suffering and then push competing generic pharmaceuticals as a replacement.
Government agents could carry "pharma microchip scanners" that determine what pills you're taking right now. This could be used to violate your privacy by sharing that data with other government agencies or it could even be sold off to third-party marketing companies.
I very much doubt the data being broadcast by the microchips in these pills will be encrypted because encryption requires real processing power, and there isn't room for much of a CPU or power source inside these tiny microchips. Most likely, they are going to broadcast raw signal data that can be detected and decoded quite easily.
Remember to take your meds
But the really scary part about these microchipped medications is that this technology will be used to make sure people are taking their medication. Drug companies lose billions of dollars a year (in their minds) from patients not remembering to take their pills. Of course, half the reason they can't remember to take their pills is because many pharmaceuticals damage cognitive function, but that's another story.
So this smart-pill microchip technology will likely be used to track what pills patients have taken so that they can be "gently reminded" to take more pills they may have forgotten. In the marketing business, this is called a "continuity program." It's a way to make sure repeat sales happen on a regular basis.
In this context, microchipping the pills benefits the drug companies, not necessarily the patients. This is especially true when considering those pharmaceuticals that are harmful to human health -- and we all know the pharmaceutical market is full of pills that have later been found to be extremely dangerous or even deadly (Vioxx, anyone?).
Coming soon: Police drug scanners and employer drug scanners
Now, there may be one interesting side effect to all this: Employers who are interviewing potential job candidates might be able to buy (or make) simple drug scanning devices that detect the presence of a pharmaceutical microchip broadcast signal. (You could probably make one in your garage from electronic parts purchased at Radio Shack.)
This might be very useful for employers who don't want to hire people taking medications. They invite you in for an interview and quietly scan for drug broadcast data. A red light tells them you're broadcasting medication data, and they calmly tell you the interview is over and "we'll get back to you."
With employers right now drowning in health insurance costs, this could provide a simple, easy way for corporations to avoid taking on anyone who might create a cost burden on their health insurance plans (from their point of view). I don't necessarily agree with this use of the technology; I'm just saying this is one way in which it is likely to be used by employers to screen out employees who are on medications.
Cops, too, could use a similar scanning device to determine if a driver at the scene of an accident might be medication impaired. Now this is a use I actually do agree with. Today's roadways are filled with mentally impaired drivers who are doped up on medications. The problem is actually far worse than drunk drivers, by the way, and yet virtually nothing is being done to combat this problem of "medicated drivers." (Most people don't even know the problem exists.)
If people taking medications are broadcasting that fact through all the little microchips they swallow, then scanning for the presence of medications is simple. It's even easier than a breathalyzer test because it requires no action on the part of the test subject. The cop just presses a button, waits two seconds, and can then determine whether you're broadcasting medication data. At that point, you might be arrested under suspicion of "driving while medicated."
Another reason not to take meds
There are clearly a lot of unanswered questions and even some potential risks involved in taking microchipped pharmaceuticals. For some people, privacy issues may be the biggest factor of all, because who wants to broadcast the fact that they're taking meds in the first place?
I don't take any pharmaceuticals, obviously, and most NaturalNews readers avoid them, too. The fact that drugs will soon be microchipped is yet another good reason to find more holistic ways to take care of your health. Don't bet your life (and your privacy) on Big Pharma's pills. Choose a healthy, holistic lifestyle based on nutritious, organic foods, regular exercise and the avoidance of all man-made (synthetic) chemicals, and you most likely won't ever need pharmaceuticals for your entire life.
The age of microchipping people and microchipping medications is now upon us. Given what the TSA is doing right now with naked body scanners (http://www.naturalnews.com/030100_naked_body_scanners_airport.html), you can only imagine what Big Brother will do with any medication data you might be broadcasting from inside your body.
In fact, the very idea that there is a microchip inside your body that's broadcasting data might get you flagged as a possible terrorist by the TSA, which would then proceed to finger your genitals and palm your breasts as part of their new "enhanced pat-down" groping technique. (http://www.naturalnews.com/030302_T)
The best way to avoid all this risk is to simply eat your veggies and drink your superfoods. Don't become a trackable, traceable, microchipped subject of the medical industry that wants to turn your body into a chemical profit center.
Sources for this story include:
Look out, your medicine is watching you
By Ben Hirschler
Mon Nov 8, 2010 5:29pm EST
(Reuters) - Novartis AG plans to seek regulatory approval within 18 months for a pioneering tablet containing an embedded microchip, bringing the concept of "smart-pill" technology a step closer.
The initial program will use one of the Swiss firm's established drugs taken by transplant patients to avoid organ rejection. But Trevor Mundel, global head of development, believes the concept can be applied to many other pills.
"We are taking forward this transplant drug with a chip and we hope within the next 18 months to have something that we will be able to submit to the regulators, at least in Europe," Mundel told the Reuters Health Summit in New York.
"I see the promise as going much beyond that," he added.
Novartis agreed in January to spend $24 million to secure access to chip-in-a-pill technology developed by privately owned Proteus Biomedical of Redwood City, California, putting it ahead of rivals.
The biotech start-up's ingestible chips are activated by stomach acid and send information to a small patch worn on the patient's skin, which can transmit data to a smartphone or send it over the Internet to a doctor.
Mundel said the initial project was focused on ensuring that patients took drugs at the right time and got the dose they needed -- a key issue for people after kidney and other transplant operations, when treatment frequently needs adjustment.
Longer-term, he hopes to expand the "smart pill" concept to other types of medicine and use the wealth of biometric information the Proteus chip can collect, from heart rate and temperature to body movement, to check that drugs are working properly.
Because the tiny chips are added to existing drugs, Novartis does not expect to have to conduct full-scale clinical trials to prove the new products work. Instead, it aims to do so-called bioequivalence tests to show they are the same as the original.
A bigger issue may be what checks should be put in place to protect patients' personal medical data as it is transmitted from inside their bodies by wireless and Bluetooth.
"The regulators all like the concept and have been very encouraging. But ... they want to understand how we are going to solve the data privacy issues," Mundel said.
A technology that ensures a patient takes his or her medicine and checks that it is working properly should deliver better outcomes and justify a higher price tag.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Robert MacMillan)