AdhereTech Unveils Next Generation Of Connected Pill Bottles


Digital health startup AdhereTech unveils the next generation in its line of connected pill bottles. The new bottle has been completely redesigned since AdhereTech launched its first bottle in 2013, adding new functionality, reducing overall weight, and changing the shape of the bottle itself so that it more closely resembles a traditional prescription bottle.

The NYC-based startup was launched in 2011 by then Wharton Business School MBA student Josh Stein. Stein recognized that poor medication adherence was a problem that was costing the US $300 billion annually. Despite the high cost, there was little competition in the market in 2011 working to improve adherence rates. Though many companies have now rolled out apps that send patients medication reminders, there are still very few companies building technologies that will passively track medication adherence.  Stein raised a $600,000 seed round in 2011 and used the money to design a pill bottle that knows when each medication should be taken, and recognizes when a dose has been missed. When doses are missed, the pill bottle lights up, vibrates, and can even send an automated text message or phone call to the patient or a designated caregiver. On the back-end, adherence data is tracked and reported on a population dashboard that is being used by health systems working to improve population health, and pharmaceutical companies managing clinical trials.

The next generation pill bottle has whittled away at some of the technical barriers found in the first version. The communications chipset has been replaced with one that will allow it to communicate across cellular networks both within the US and internationally, an upgrade that will help position AdhereTech for international growth. The company is also launching a new API that will allow third-party developers to integrate medication adherence data from the AdhereTech bottle. Battery life has also been extended from two months to six months. AdhereTech raised a $1.75 million Series A funding round last summer, and will use the money to launch its new bottle.

Compared to its competition, there is a lot to like about AdhereTech’s approach. The company’s technology does not require users to do anything differently than they otherwise would with a traditional bottle. There is no app to configure or synch the bottle with, or online user profile to create. The pill bottle is self-contained, which is an advantage it holds over all of its rivals. Other than AdhereTech, competing startups are working on medication adherence solutions in the app development space, where Mango Health and others are building tools to help schedule, remind, and track medication adherence rates. These apps are free for end users, but improvements to medication adherence rates have been hard to come by.

The big name in the room when discussing medication adherence startups is Proteus Digital Health, a billion dollar startup building miniaturized sensors that it hopes to embed directly into drugs. These sensors recognize when they have been swallowed, and thus track adherence at a more accurate level, but users need to wear an accompanying transdermal patch for them to work, and it is not a foregone conclusion that patients will do that, especially patients being targeted for poor medication compliance. Proteus launched in 2001, and has been working toward FDA approval for its technology ever since, but still does not have it. Despite this, Proteus has raised $315 million in 10 funding rounds since its launch. AdhereTech on the other hand has only taken in $2.5 million and the company offers technology that may well be best suited for addressing the nations poor adherence problems.

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