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article imageOp-Ed: Microchip medicine destroys privacy

By Eliot Elwar     May 19, 2012 in Technology
From pacemakers to artificial hips, people are getting more familiar with new technology placed in their bodies, but imbedding microchips still raises many privacy concerns.
People who are weary of daily needle injections for their medical issues could soon have new options: researchers have been developing an implantable microchip that will replace needles. In 2011, human trials began in Denmark and elsewhere.
According to Plastics Today, researchers developed wireless and implantable microchips. The future of drug delivery may be a programmable, wirelessly controlled microchip implanted in a patient's body. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research team envisioned the implantable microchip idea 15 years ago. The team created a Micro-CHIPS company to explore commercialization. Recently, the researchers announced a successful in-body test results.
Human clinical trials began in Denmark during 2011 with successful results. The Micro-CHIPS company plans to develop implants with the capability to transport hundreds of drug doses per chip. Dosages will be scheduled in advance or triggered remotely by radio communication over a special frequency called Medical Implant Communication Service. Implantable microchip devices will provide real-time dose schedule tracking, and as part of a network, physicians can remotely adjust treatment schedules as necessary. Micro-CHIPS expect that it will take a few years for its first product to reach the market. During this time, the company plans on refining the technology design for a microchip implant so it will deliver drugs for either one or two years. The company should complete the clinical studies for approval by regulatory authorities within the next few years, according to Plastics Today.
Reuters reported that an implantable, wireless microchip successfully delivered osteoporosis medicine to a small group of Danish women. This accomplishment raises hope for a new kind of drug delivery system that will allow patients to skip regular injections. The device, currently being developed by privately held Microchips Incorporated, has a wireless receiver that signals the microchip to release the drug, according to Reuters.
According to the Los Angeles Times, science researchers say they have devised a modern technique for giving patients their medicine. This new method involves a microchip embedded in the body where doctors can control drug release into their patients’ body remotely by a wireless connection. The drug chip was employed for delivering bone-strengthening hormones to women suffering with advanced osteoporosis who otherwise would have needed daily injections. After four months, the chips were safely removed from the patients' bodies, according to science researchers.
According to Radio Frequency Identification Technology News (RFIDNews), Positive-ID declared that it has received an order for its Veri-Chip microchip to be employed for disaster preparation and crisis management by the Israeli Military. The Veri-Chip microchip was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for patient identification in 2004. The company’s integration partner intends to provide the microchips to the Israeli military. Veri-Chip will assist crisis situations and disaster recovery in combination with cameras capable of wirelessly receiving of both RFID scanned data and GPS data. A Web-enabled database will support the gathering and storing of information and images captured during disaster response operations.
Positive-ID stated that it has developed its RFID glucose-sensing microchip, called the Gluco-Chip. This microchip will precisely calculate glucose levels in any diabetic’s body. According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, more than 25 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, which is roughly 8 percent of U.S. population. The Gluco-Chip is FDA cleared and based on Positive-ID’s Veri-Chip microchip employed for patient identification. The company believes the measurement of glucose levels through this system will allow individuals with diabetes to monitor glucose levels in a less invasive manner, according to RFIDNews.
As convenient as this technology appears many people remain reluctant about putting microchips into their bodies. While implantable microchips have been previously offered for health purposes, they were rejected by the American general public. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the implantable Veri-Chip, a radio frequency ID (RFID) tag in 2004. The Veri-Chip was marketed as a way to quickly identify patients brought to the hospital unconscious or in other ways incapacitated. The chip, placed under the skin in the upper right arm, gave doctors quick access to any patient identity and medical history.
Serious privacy concerns conquered the marketing of Veri-Chip in the US because many citizens were concerned that the technology could eventually be employed for nefarious purposes. Other nations support microchip usage to collect private information on their population. Although the implantable micro-chips have been marketed as the ideal tool for child identification and protection from kidnappers, some argue that this technology completely destroys human privacy. Finally, the medical convenience of microchip medication will never solve the privacy concerns of many people, but as technology continues to provide new techniques for dealing with various issues, people will see more microchip implants offered for their bodies.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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