Because daily injections can be psychologically and physically challenging, Farra said, only 25 percent of patients on teriparatide actually finish a typical 24-month regimen. But with the implant -- which delivered 20 timed doses controlled by doctors -- the compliance rate rose to 100 percent.
About 50,000 Americans take the drug each year at a cost of $10,000 to $12,000, which would be comparable to the cost of the microchip and the minor surgery to embed it, he said. The microchip can be implanted under local anesthesia in a doctor's office.
"It not only should offer a better quality of life, we should see improved outcomes because of the compliance boost," Farra said, adding that his company is developing a model that will deliver a year's worth of doses. He said he hopes it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and on the market within four years.
Dr. Robert Recker, director of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., said he was skeptical that the microchip could keep the Forteo stable at body temperature since the drug is normally refrigerated when contained in injection pens.
However, Farra said that researchers had modified the drug to make this possible, an effort made easier because each dose was also sealed in tiny air- and moisture-proof compartments in the microchip.
The reservoirs pop open on a pre-programmed schedule or via a wireless signal, which can be sent from a doctor's computer or smartphone, Farra said.
"I do not see how this can be done with [a] reservoir, either above or below the skin surface," Recker said. "I think the claim must be corroborated with more studies. They must explain how they preserve the drug at body temperature."
The University of New Hampshire has more about human microchip implantation.<
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