Wireless pill cap makers Vitality bought by pharma billionaire

Vitality, which developed a wireless, Internet-connected pill bottle cap to remind patients to take their medication, has been acquired by Patrick Soon-Shiong M.D.  Soon-Shiong recently sold his second multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company in three years and was already an investor in Vitality.

Vitality’s main product is the GlowCap, a pill cap with an embedded wireless chip which fits popular prescription bottles. The related home hub illuminates and plays a melody when it’s time to take the medication. If the bottle is not opened two hours after a scheduled dose, the user even gets a phone call reminding him to take his medication.

The GlowCaps platform sends weekly emails to remote caregivers, monthly adherence reports to physicians and patients and can automatically refill prescriptions. AT&T provides the wireless network connection. Earlier this month, AT&T and Vitality announced the availability of GlowCaps on Amazon.

According to Vitality, half of the U.S. population is taking medication of one kind of another. When patients take their medication regularly, related health care costs are reduced. Vitality asserts that for each additional dollar spent on high cholesterol medications (when they are taken on schedule), $5.10 is saved in follow on health care costs. For high blood pressure medications, $3.98 is saved.

Several thousand people are currently using the GlowCap. In June 2010, Partners Healthcare’s Center for Connected Health announced results from a clinical study measuring a 27% increase in adherence for users of Vitality’s GlowCaps.

The details of the transaction have not been made public but David Rose, CEO of Vitality, said that the acquisition represents a 10-fold return on investment to Vitality’s investors. The company’s plans for the future involve building relationships with healthcare insurance providers as well as pharmaceutical companies, both of whom could be interested in providing the product free to patients. Vitality also plans to develop additional healthcare services which make use of the home hub used with GlowCaps.

Soon-Shiong founded American Pharmaceutical Partners to make generic intravenous medicines in 1997 and in 2008 sold his stake in the company for $3.7 billion. In 2010, Soon-Shiong sold Abraxis BioScience, a biotechnology company developing cancer treatments, in a $2.9 billion cash-and-stock deal. He also owns 4.5 percent of the LA Lakers.

Vitality was founded in 2007 in Cambridge, MA, has around 30 employees and is privately funded.

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