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Overdose Prevention Pill

Conditional Release Pills with Proximity Sensors
  [vote for,

While this won't keep determined people from harming themselves, it might prevent accidental overdoses by the elderly, kids, and lovesick teenagers seeking attention by swallowing the whole bottle.

Each pill is coated with a non-digestible coating. Embedded inside the pill are the non-digestible electronics which trigger the release of a (non-poisonous) chemical which will dissolve the pill coating from the inside.

The release electronics will first query (via an RFID-like mechanism) the presence of the same type of pill in the digestive system. If there is more than a sane number of pills present, all the pills will pass unreleased (and undigested) through the system.

This might also serve as a targeted release mechanism.

I believe swallowable electronics already exist. For this idea to work, they would also have to be small, cheap, and capable of determining that they have been swallowed...

cowtamer, Apr 25 2011

BBC: "Sceptics stage homeopathy 'overdose'" http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8489019.stm
[hippo, Apr 27 2011]


       One could subvert this by crushing the pills before swallowing.   

       Extended-release Oxy-contin tablets are sort-of like this idea: also designed to prevent too much drug getting absorbed all at once -- and people do thwart that failsafe by crushing them.   

       Not sure how many suicide attempts are just the right amount of half-serious for this idea to work, but sounds pretty good (apart from cost, which is probably the deal-breaker) for preventing accidental overdoses. [+]
mouseposture, Apr 25 2011

       How about a bottle of pills which contains one drug pill for every antidote pill, which are indistinguishable from each other. When it's time to take your pill, you can find out which one is the real drug by typing its serial number or position in the pill-sheet into the internet, or by telling someone on the phone. The service will only release the information in a timely manner.   

       Necking the bottle will cause the drugs and antidotes to pretty much cancel out. That way, the only way to overdose on them would be to save each pill every day for a long time and then take them all at once.   

       This assumes drugs actually have simple antidotes, which is probably quite unlikely. Perhaps it could just be something that induces vomiting.
idris83, Apr 25 2011

       [idris83]//This assumes drugs actually have simple antidotes, which is probably quite unlikely.// Quite right. Even when there *is* an antidote, it often won't fit into a pill that looks identical to the toxic drug: the antidote to Tylenol is N-acetylcysteine, which has to be given in very large doses, continually over a prolonged period; the antidote to Oxy-Contin is naloxone, which has to be given intravenously.   

       The emetic idea is slightly better, but still seriously flawed: medication errors and medication noncompliance are already a serious problem -- you can barely get most people to take antibiotics twice a day for two weeks without screwing up. Your proposal would increase both errors and noncompliance.   

       Maybe it would be appropriate in some very, very restricted groups, like suicidal patients taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (said to be at particular risk of suicide by overdose). But if you're that worried about suicide risk, the patient had better be hospitalized, lest he/she use some other method. (For example, patients on nonselective MAO inhibitors don't need to OD, they can flirt with death just by eating the wrong cheese.)
mouseposture, Apr 26 2011

       what are you doing here, [mouseposture]? - you're sounding dangerously like you know what you're talking about
hippo, Apr 27 2011

       my bet is [mouse] is a pharmaceutical rep.
po, Apr 27 2011

       This could be achieved chemically, without the need for electronics.   

       As a simplified example: Each pill could have the drug contained in a matrix of material which requires a minimum level of stomach acidity to dissolve. The matrix contains not just the drug, but and acid neutraliser which will reduce stomach acidity to a level insufficient to release further doses, until some time has passed and acidity has recovered.   

       This may be over-simplified, but illustrates a principle.   

       Using a matrix rather than a simple shell means that the pills would have to be crushed very finely to get round the protective mechanism.
Twizz, Apr 27 2011

       [po] I'm not *nearly* good-looking enough to be a pharmaceutical rep.
mouseposture, Apr 27 2011

       beauty is in the eye of the beholder, [mousey]
po, Apr 27 2011

       I've often wondered what the effect of a placebo overdose would be. This would solve some of the problems associated with designing such a trial.
shudderprose, Apr 27 2011

       [shudder] see link
hippo, Apr 27 2011


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