AdhereTech, the New York City-based smart pill bottle company, has begun shipping the generation 2 version of its bottle to pharma and provider customers. The new version incorporates a number of changes based on user feedback that make it more robust, easier to use, and expand the reach of the company outside the United States. AdhereTech raised $1.75 million to develop the new bottle last year.
"The Gen 1 worked great, and it got over all the regulatory hurdles, but we always looked at it as a device we would perfect in the next iteration," AdhereTech CEO Josh Stein told MobiHealthNews. "We got a lot of patient feedback and we wanted to incorporate that into the next generation and also build a device that could be produced at scale. So that’s what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half, building the Gen 2 bottle."
Pharma companies and providers work with AdhereTech for a number of reasons. Their smart pill bottle uses light and sound as well as texts and phone calls to remind people to take their medication, as well as to gather feedback on their moods, symptoms, and reasons for non-adherence. They work with clinical trial investigators, with specialty drug makers, and with hospitals for post-discharge monitoring.
AdhereTech bottles are cellular and the old version worked only in the United States, Stein said; the new one works worldwide. This would be important even if the company had no plans to sell internationally, he explained, because people need to take their pills with them when they travel. But the company is also looking beyond the US for new customers and has signed their first international customer already.
The other technical change is that AdhereTech has managed to triple the battery life, from two months to six months. The lights are brighter and chimes are louder, in response to end user feedback. And, in response to customer feedback, aesthetically, the form factor is more familiar.
"One of the biggest pieces of feedback we got from patients was 'I want something that looks like a normal bottle'," he said. "The Gen 1 had this unique oblong shape, but the Gen 2 bottle looks like a normal bottle in size, shape, and feel."
Finally, the new bottles are more robust, with no moving parts, and are overall easier to manufacture at scale. AdhereTech is working with a US-based manufacturing firm that also builds medical devices for Philips and Bayer.
As well as developing the new bottle, AdhereTech has signed on a number of new customers, some public, some not. On the pharma side none of AdhereTech's customers are public but they include "a top 3 pharma company, a top 15 pharma company, a top 20 pharmacy, and a top 25 pharmacy," according to Stein. They're working with Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center on clinical trials and with Mount Sinai, Partner's HealthCare, AARP, and UnitedHealthcare on post-discharge monitoring.
Stein said the company's first efficacy study, conducted at the VA Medical Center, will be out in the next six months. Other studies are underway, and findings show that across engagements AdhereTech boosted adherence 20 percent and that 80 percent of patients given the option of using AdhereTech or a normal bottle opted into the smart bottle.
"That's something we were shocked and surprised to see," Stein said. "...When patients are made aware of the product, we work really hard to convey how easy it is to use, so opt-in rates have been incredibly high."