Wednesday, October 13, 2004

FDA Approves Implantable Chip for Humans

FDA approves use of implantable chip in patients
By The Associated Press
October 13, 2004, 2:11 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved an
implantable computer chip that can pass a patient's medical details to
doctors, speeding care.

VeriChips, radio frequency microchips the size of a grain of rice, have
already been used to identify wayward pets and livestock. And nearly 200
people working in Mexico's attorney general's office have been implanted
with chips to access secure areas containing sensitive documents.

Delray Beach, Fla.-based Applied Digital Solutions said it would give away
$650 scanners to roughly 200 trauma centers around the nation to help
speed its entry into the health care market.

A company spokesman would not say how much implanting chips would cost for
humans, even though chips have been implanted in some, including Scott R.
Silverman, the company's chief executive officer.

The company is targeting patients with diabetes, chronic cardiac
conditions, Alzheimer's disease and those who undergo complex treatments
like chemotherapy, said Dr. Richard Seelig, Applied Digital Solutions'
vice president of medical applications.

It's the first time the FDA has approved medical use of the device, though
in Mexico, more than 1,000 scannable chips have been implanted in
patients. The chip's serial number pulls up the patients' blood type and
other medical information.

With the pinch of a syringe, the microchip is inserted under the skin in a
procedure that takes less than 20 minutes and leaves no stitches.

Silently and invisibly, the dormant chip stores a code -- similar to the
identifying UPC code on products sold in retail stores -- that releases
patient-specific information when a scanner passes over the chip.

At the doctor's office those codes stamped onto chips, once scanned, would
reveal such information as a patient's allergies and prior treatments.

The FDA in October 2002 said that the agency would regulate health care
applications possible through VeriChip. Meanwhile, the chip has been used
for a number of security-related tasks as well as for pure whimsy: Club
hoppers in Barcelona, Spain, now use the microchip much like a smartcard
to speed drink orders and payment.

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