With prescription drug abuse and the online counterfeit medicine trade both at epidemic levels, a host of tech companies have introduced products designed to keep patients safe. One such company is EMD Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Its new smartphone app helps health care providers or patients identify legitimate medications. Those with smartphones simply download the Check My Meds app, use the program to scan a two-dimensional barcode on most EMD Serono products, and wait for the system to verify the package.
Alabama-based MedSnap offers smartphone apps that help drug manufacturers identify counterfeit medications and “fingerprint” them to track down their source. Pictures are taken of the suspect medication and then loaded into a worldwide database that analyzes the pills’ size, color, shape, and other attributes to verify their authenticity.
Lower-tech options for keeping medication secure from potential abuse are also available. LockMed, based in Pennsylvania, sells lockable medication storage boxes, and Pill Pod, out of California, has combination locking plastic cylinders that store medication bottles vertically. Additional medication storage lockers are available and can be found via online searches.
The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) is pleased to welcome MedSnap as a new member. MedSnap’s technology allows the camera in an iPhone to precisely authenticate oral medications, and their analysis services provide pharmaceutical companies and law enforcement with enhanced intelligence on counterfeiting operations.
MedSnap’s Verify Services includes MedSnap VR, an iPhone application that uses computer vision to evaluate the visual integrity of tablets and capsules in order to assess whether they are authentic or counterfeit. Aggregate field data is gathered to identify the visual “fingerprints” a counterfeit producer leaves on their product. These “fingerprints” are clustered to provide intelligence which assists in prioritizing targets and validating the impact of successful interventions.
MedSnap technology takes measurements within 0.1mm, differentiates between 244,000 shades of pill color, evaluates imprints, and measures reflectivity and texture when authenticating an oral medication. Often the system can differentiate authentic medications by their manufacturing site of origin. MedSnap requires an iPhone 5 or higher camera and a thin, durable MedSnap Snap Surface. MedSnap works directly with pharmaceutical companies to model products across manufacturing sites, and securely distributes their applications through their customers’ application management systems.
ASOP is pleased to have MedSnap as a member and is enthusiastic about their technology in the fight against the public health threat that illicit online pharmacies and counterfeit medications pose.
The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to protect patient safety globally and ensure patient access to safe and legitimate online pharmacies in accordance with application laws.
“What is this tablet?” is probably one of the most common questions phoned into pharmacies across the nation. The pharmacist indubitably goes through the motions of looking up what medications the patient has recently filled, grabs the bottle off the shelf, and tries to determine whether the descriptions match. Relying on the color, shape, and letters or numbers on the tablet may be enough to confirm the medication. However, sometimes a pill cannot be identified, and the patient has to come into the pharmacy for visual confirmation. My personal favorite is the description of a round or oblong white tablet, which could be just about anything.
Taking that into consideration, a number of resources are currently available to help patients and health care workers identify tablets. Resources include a pill identifier app on a smartphone, websites such as Drugs.com, and medical drug reference suites that often come equipped with a drug identification suite. That being the case, these pill identifying programs inevitably rely on the user to enter the description of the pill, such as shape, color, and whatever imprints are available, and the pill identifier spits out whatever could match.
This can be a complicated process, especially given several factors. One large problem with pill identifiers is that they often cannot provide images for each medication. This is compounded by numerous generic medication manufacturers. Lastly, identifying multiple medications at a time can be a consuming process.
Several companies are seeking ways to utilize technology to reinvent how we identify tablets and capsule medications. One company that stands out is MedSnap, a start-up company based in Birmingham, Alabama, that is looking to use the built-in camera on smartphones to identify medications. MedSnap launched a Pill Mapping Project that catalogued the appearance of each pill and tablet that is manufactured. After collecting this data, they created an app that uses the smartphone camera to identify medications placed on a proprietary image pad. Perhaps the most amazing aspect is that the app can identify multiple medications at once, greatly speeding up the process. MedSnap is also exploring the use of their platform for patients to manage their medications, identify drug interactions, and increase their adherence.
Another big player looking to identify medications and creating a library of drug images is the National Library of Medicine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a large image base of tablets and capsules, which it is now looking to put into the public’s hands. The NIH recently launched its Pill Image Recognition Pilot (PIR Pilot) to create an app that can help consumers identify medications with their smartphone cameras.
The development of these different programs may be beneficial to not only patients but also health care practitioners looking for a better tool in their work flow. These apps may be beneficial for hospitals conducting medication reconciliation in the emergency department or for identification of medications in possible accidental drug ingestions with toxic effects. Personally, I think it would be interesting to see the capability of creating a system like this that could capture the image of a medication and send it to a toxicology center for identification and treatment recommendations. – See more at: http://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/timothy-aungst-pharmd/2015/03/upgrading-the-way-we-identify-pills-with-new-technology#sthash.TOyCaCbn.dpuf
BRUSSELS, Belgium – The emerging Alabama bioscience sector is getting a close-up look in Belgium as part of a trade mission that aims to create opportunities for business connections, research partnerships, and new investment.
Over the past two days, Alabama bioscience company leaders have displayed their products during presentations and joined with state economic development officials to network with Belgian counterparts and to learn how the life science industry has taken shape in Belgium.
Tuesday, the Alabama delegation received an in-depth look at bioscience activities in Belgium, highlighted by a visit to VIB, a non-profit research institute in Flanders that serves as the foundation of an innovation and commercialization ecosystem. The group also toured the VIB incubator, where spin-off company Ablynx is focusing on a new class of antibody-derived therapeutic proteins as possible treatments for life-threatening diseases.
Hilda Lockhart, the director of the Alabama Department of Commerce’s International Trade Division, said the Alabama delegation is exploring ways to tap into the potential of Belgium’s life sciences sector, which receives strong government support.
“All the clusters were initially developed by a commitment from regional and federal funding,” said Dr. Michael Chambers, president and chief executive officer of Swift Biotechnology LLCin Mobile. “And young companies benefited from grants for 70 percent of start-up costs.”
Dr. Terry Bray, executive vice president of business development for Birmingham’s Atherotech Diagnostics Lab, said the Alabama group also visited UCB, which has transformed itself from a chemical firm to a global biopharma company focused on discovering treatments for severe diseases.
Bray said the group heard a presentation from Frederic Druck of BioWin, a bioscience-focused organization that links companies, research organizations, universities, and other stakeholders in the Wallonia region of Belgium.
On Monday, the Alabama group led by Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield met with U.S. Ambassador Denise Bauer at the Embassy in Brussels. As a ceremonial gift, Secretary Canfield gave Ambassador Bauer an ink pen crafted by an Alabama artisan from a dogwood tree downed by a tornado. She gave him a box of Belgian chocolates.
Steven Ceulemans, vice president of innovation and technology for the Birmingham Business Alliance, said more than 100 executives from the Belgian biosciences industry attended Monday presentations by Alabama firms and a networking reception. Also on Monday, Secretary Canfield presented an overview of Alabama’s bioscience sector, which today numbers more than 550 firms.
“The best conclusion overheard from today’s events is that both Alabama and Belgium ‘punch above their weights’ in the life sciences sector,” Ceulemans said Monday.
Dr. Patrick Hymel, chief executive officer and co-founder of Birmingham’s MedSnap LLC, said the mission has benefited the start-up in a number of ways.
“MedSnap’s participation in the Alabama bioscience trade mission has provided insight into the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry in Belgium and contacts with industry leaders, potential partners and customers in the EU,” Hymel said.
“In addition to site visits to innovative companies and research organizations, we were welcomed at the U.S. Embassy to present our organization to potential customers and partners. We then socialized with the U.S. Ambassador at a private reception.
“Overall the experience has provided excellent insight into opportunities for MedSnap to expand to the EU, and was well worth the time and resources to participate,” Hymel added.
The focus of the trade mission shifts Wednesday to The Netherlands, where the Alabama team will receive briefings, meet with Dutch bioscience representatives, and tour a major life sciences research cluster. The group returns home Friday.
MedSnap has been invited to participate in an international trade mission to Belgium and The Netherlands with the Alabama Department of Commerce.
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield will lead the delegation to the EU October 20-24. The goal is to increase awareness of Alabama¹s innovative biotechnology and life science companies and provide introductions to leaders in the Belgian and Dutch markets.
MedSnap will meet with major European pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations during the visit.
To learn more about the Export Alabama Alliance, please visit http://www.madeinalabama.com/divisions/international-trade/export-alabama-
Tech2Health: MedSnap wants to make medication errors a thing of the past
The idea: MedSnap ID is a mobile application that uses an iPhone’s camera to identify 4,700 types of pills to build a patient’s medication history and gauge the interactions of multiple pills taken by a patient. Continue reading →