Sat, May 11, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Doctor develops app to identify drugs, medications

Staff writer, with CNA

The AIGIA Pharmacist app, which can identify 400 commonly used drugs, is demonstrated in an undated photograph.

Photo: CNA

Concerned that people might be taking the wrong medication because many pills are similar in appearance, National Yang-Ming University associate professor of family medicine Chen Yu-chun (陳育群) has developed a smartphone app to help users identify drugs and medications.

The app — called AIGIA Pharmacist — can identify 400 commonly used drugs and medications in the nation with the assistance of a drug-photographing device called MedBox, Chen said at a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday.

The National Health Insurance (NHI) System covers about 18,000 drugs and medications, many of which are in the form of pills that are similar in size and appearance, which can mislead people into taking the wrong medication, Chen said.

Chen, who is also a physician at Taipei Veterans General Hospital’s family medicine department, said that he had a home-visit patient who often complained of gas pains, despite having been given medication for the ailment.

It took some time before he discovered that the patient, who was bedridden, had mistaken the round white pills prescribed for abdominal distention with those for his prostate problem, Chen said.

To help people being cared for at home to distinguish their various medications, Chen spent three years developing the medication identification app and acquired a patent for the invention last year.

Data on 400 NHI drugs and medications, including more than 8,000 images, have been stored in a cloud data bank for the app, which has proven during testing at Taipei Veterans General Hospital to be able to identify 90 percent of home-care medications in the nation with an accuracy rate of 95 percent, Chen said.

To help foreign caregivers, the app is also available in English, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Malay, Chen said.

However, the app is still in the testing phase and has not yet been commercialized, he said.

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