August 19, 2011

Meth Addicts Recover With iPhones

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Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Medication event monitoring systems work

(dailyRx News) Cell phones are an amazing piece of technology that have extended its reach into the medical field. Before phones were used to make calls and now they're saving lives.

If you haven't heard already, smart phones are saving people all around the world. Before, people would have to call 9-1-1 for help, but now people are using phone apps to give CPR or even treat wounds. Doctors and researchers have found another use for cell phones and it pertains to methamphetamine addicts.

"Take a picture while taking your medication and send it to your doctor."

Gannt P. Galloway, Pharm. D., from California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, and team found that camera phones can be an easy, cost-effective way to monitor methamphetamine addicts who are taking medication for their problems.

The study included 20 people taking modafinil to treat methamphetamine dependence. The participants were asked to snap a picture with the drug in their hand before taking their daily medication and then emailing the photo to their doctor (or in this case the research center).

The camera phone method was compared with two more traditional methods of evaluating medication cooperation. Medication event monitoring system (MEMS) is a pill bottle that electronically records every time the bottle is opened. The other method is pill counting, where the doctor counts the number of pills remaining at each clinic visit.

There was a 77 percent adherence rate with the cell phone photos, which wasn't as high as the other two methods. However, Galloway and team believes that it's an underestimation that could be explained by participants not sending the photograph.

While MEMS and pill counting are ways that monitor compliance, the cell phone photos provide more data than pill counting and are less expensive than MEMS.

The cell phone pictures can provide the time the medication was taken which is useful because participants who took their medication around the same time everyday had higher compliance rates, Galloway adds.

This is just an alternative method that can offer researchers and clinicians a new way to improve clinical trials and practice, Galloway comments.

The research is published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
August 18, 2011

Last Updated:
August 19, 2011