GAINESVILLE, Fla. Most of us have missed a dose of antibiotic or forgotten to take a daily vitamin. But when the stakes are higher as they are for people with HIV/AIDS a skipped pill could mean the difference between health and hazard for the entire population.
Now, a breath monitoring device developed by scientists at the University of Florida and Xhale Inc. could help prevent the emergence of drug-resistant strains of HIV by monitoring medication adherence in high-risk individuals.
For HIV, its been shown that if you dont take a very high percentage of your medication, you may as well not take medication at all, said Richard Melker, M.D., a professor of anesthesiology at the UF College of Medicine and chief technology officer for Xhale.
Patients who take some but not all of their medication increase the likelihood the virus will mutate into a deadlier, drug-resistant form. Experts have tried literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to monitor drug adherence, ranging from daily log books to blister packs that record the time each pill is dispensed. Despite the money, time and effort devoted to these methods, Melker said only one works well: directly observed therapy, or DOT.
If you have a disease that is deemed to be a public health risk, authorities can put you into a program where you have to come to the clinic every day and be observed putting the pill into your mouth and swallowing it, Melker said.
But that process is inconvenient for patients, as well as for clinic personnel who have to track them down when they fail to show up. A breath-monitoring device developed by UF scientists and Xhale could change that, allowing patients to participate in a type of virtual DOT from home.
The machine sits in your home and when its time for you to take your medication, it makes a beeping noise. If you dont hit a button after about five minutes, its going to beep louder and louder until you come, Melker
|Contact: Ann Griswold|
University of Florida