Should drugmakers try talking pill bottles?

What if drugmakers could sell more pills with the aid of a small high-tech gadget? Well, we're about to find out, as the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts prepares to test an electronic pill bottle that reminds patients to take their medicine.

Here's how it works, according to the Wall Street Journal: The "GlowCap" bottle communicates via a wireless transmitter that's plugged into a wall socket. When it's time for a dose, the GlowCap starts to, well, glow--with a pulsing orange light. If an hour goes by without someone taking a pill from that bottle, the cap starts to beep. And those beeps get more and more annoying until, finally, a nagging telephone call or text message goes out to the patient. The device can even tattle on patients who don't take their meds by reporting missed doses to a doctor or family member.

Patients with chronic conditions--such as high-blood pressure, diabetes, and depression--sometimes miss doses of their meds, or stop taking them altogether. That's bad for the patients because the drugs won't help if they stay in the bottle. But it's also bad for pharma sales, which is one reason why drugmakers every so often mount take-your-pills initiatives.

So, if this electronic test works, we can envision drugmakers hopping on board, backing widespread use of GlowCap or a similar gadget. We could even see samples handed out at doctors' offices for passing along to patients most likely to skip doses of their meds. It might be a win-win for patients and pharmas. And the makers of GlowCap and its ilk, of course.

- read the WSJ story