A smart connected dispensing device that guarantees the packaging of pharmaceutical products and connects patients continuously to healthcare professionals in real time, while ensuring the correct dispensation of their prescribed doses, is being tested by a French cancer institute.
The Sainte-Catherine Cancer Institute in Avignon has announced its participation in the testing of the device, THESS (Therapy Smart System), being developed by French med-tech company La Valériane.
THESS is the result of five years of research by teams at La Valériane and fellow French company, SGH Healthcaring, which specializes in the manufacture of solutions for the administration of drugs. Useful for oral chemotherapy, the solution combines a smartphone-like dispenser with capsules containing the drugs.
The dispenser is equipped with an identity-vigilance system and the capsule is set up by the care teams and assigned to a patient. In addition, the distributor warns patients when they need to take their treatment and verifies that it has been delivered in accordance with the prescribed doses.
According to Roland Sicard, president of La Valériane, early monitoring has been ongoing for two months and THESS will be tested on 50 patients each from the Sainte-Catherine and Paoli-Calmettes institutes from February-March 2021.
In addition, experiments will also be conducted in two US cancer facilities under the supervision of the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta and are also expected to bring together 100 test patients.
“Other hospitals will be able to access the solution from July 2021,” Sicard said. "As part of our experiments, it is the healthcare institution that pays for all this. These are marginal costs that a hospital can bear and with these capsules that preserve the integrity of the drug, all those that have not been used will be recovered by the hospital.”
He added that if certain treatments and molecules display a real benefit in having this kind of technology to improve compliance or the right dosage, “one can imagine that the price of the smart pillbox is part of the price of the drug and sold with it. The payer would then be health insurance.”
He added that the dispensing machine costs the same as a mid-range smartphone, about EUR 400 to purchase or EUR 20 per month to rent,” explained Sicard. “The capsules cost between 2 and 3 euros each. For an oral treatment of four months, it takes four capsules, or 120 pills."
Medical studies show that for treatments with complex drugs, at risk of complications or for treatments whose effectiveness depends on fair compliance, a digital solution that facilitates patients’ remote monitoring significantly reduces complications and unscheduled hospitalizations while improving the efficacy of the treatment.
Founded in 2008 in Montpellier, La Valériane has so far invested EUR 5 million in THESS and is currently preparing a fundraiser of EUR 3-5 million in the coming months to continue their development.