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Philips’ intelligent pill targets drug development and treatment for digestive tract diseases


Philips Research’s intelligent pill (iPill) for electronically controlled drug delivery

New York, USA – At this week’s opening of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition (Atlanta, USA, November 16-20, 2008) Philips Research will announce its new intelligent pill technology “iPill”, targeted at assisting drug development and enabling new therapies for debilitating and life-threatening digestive tract disorders such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and colon cancer.

In 2001, the first camera pill was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for diagnostic applications. Now seven years later, for the first time, researchers from Philips will present their iPill technology – the next generation to the camera pill. The iPill is a capsule, the same size as a camera pill, and has been designed to be swallowed and to pass through the digestive track naturally. It can be electronically programmed to control the delivery of medicine according to a pre-defined drug release profile.

The iPill determines its location in the intestinal tract by measuring the local acidity of its environment. Distinct areas of the intestinal tract have distinct pH (a measure of acidity) profiles: the stomach is highly acidic and upon exiting the stomach the acidity of the gut sharply decreases and then becomes progressively less acidic from the upper intestine onwards. Armed with this pH information and data about capsule transit times, the location in the gut can be determined with good accuracy. The iPill releases medicine from its drug reservoir via a microprocessor controlled pump, allowing accurate programmable drug delivery. In addition, the capsule is designed to measure local temperature, and report measurements wirelessly to an external receiver unit.

“The combination of navigational feedback, electronically controlled drug delivery and monitoring of the intestinal tract promises to make iPill technology a valuable research tool for drug development,” said leading pharmaceutical drug delivery expert Dr. Karsten Cremer of Pharma Concepts GmbH, Basel (Switzerland). “In particular, I recognize the potential of this technology to improve drug candidate profiling and selection, which could ultimately accelerate the development of new drugs.”

“As part of Philips’ commitment to provide integrated solutions for patient care, we are exploring the potential benefits of our technologies in the therapeutic arena,” says Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the Healthcare research program. “We foresee that technologies like the iPill, that combine electronics with diagnostic and therapeutic properties, will open up the possibility of targeting almost any kind of drug to a specific location in the intestinal tract.”

About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 128,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR 27 billion in 2007, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at


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