Pilleve: Success Story

A photo of the Pilleve pill dispensing device next to a hot latte.

Reducing the risk of addiction

An end-to-end system for the remote monitoring of controlled medications

Pilleve is the future of medication safety – reducing the risk of addiction to controlled drugs. Pilleve’s product is an end-to-end monitoring solution that attaches to a standard prescription pill bottle and connects to a mobile application to document pain levels and dispense medication as needed. The device also monitors tampering or unauthorized entry, alerting  both Pilleve and the patient’s physician. The team at Pilleve is driven by a core belief that every patient should receive optimal care without suffering  the costs of addiction to controlled drugs, anchored in relevant personal and clinical experience.

Co-founders Gautam Chebrolu and Yossuf Al-Banawi decided to start Pilleve after realizing the devastating effects of the opioid crisis affecting the United States and beyond. Influenced not only by the magnitude of the epidemic, they also experienced it first hand. Through their experiences and struggles with addiction as well as Pilleve’s clinical leadership, they understand the tools that are necessary to make medication use safer for all parties involved in a patient’s care plan. 

Pilleve impact: early intervention

How does it work? Pilleve provides the device to the patient to monitor usage, and screens for any aberrant behaviors. The Pilleve system then packages and safely transmits that data to authorized healthcare providers and necessary stakeholders, providing a catalyst for action. Pilleve decreases the costs of opioid abuse and addiction for patients, loved ones, and the insurance companies alike. By detecting the signs earlier, intervening, and ensuring patients are using their prescriptions safely, Pilleve decreases the social and financial burden that cripples patients and their stakeholders. 

Moreover, the device empowers the user to have independent access to needed prescriptions. Beyond addiction prevention, there could be other applications such as in-home elder care – preserving the independence of patients who need medication but face challenges in remembering or tracking consumption. The product also allows the convenience of streamlined dosage adjustments and monitoring between medical professionals and patients, a key innovation in the growing world of digital and teleconference medicine, more prevalent than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pilleve team takes patient confidentiality and HIPAA compliance very seriously and have incorporated a number of precautions to ensure that the data is secure, protected, and monitored. Further, privacy and building trust with the patient is built into the platform itself where information required for patient registration is kept to a minimum.

Pilleve is currently working on multiple pilots with different U.S.-based health systems—including in Boston and Worcester—with 500 pilot patients in the next year. Early results have pointed to an increase in medication, all patients being compliant, and a decrease in patient utilization of their breakthrough pain medication, but further research is required to confirm these early data points.

“The Rocket Roundtable hosted by FORGE was exactly what Pilleve needed at that point in the development process.”

— Gautam Chebrolu, Co-founder and CTO

FORGE’s impact: supplier expertise

Pilleve approached FORGE with several discrete manufacturing challenges in May of 2020. FORGE connected Pilleve with Fourstar Connections, a cable assembly shop with immense design for manufacturing support based in Hudson, MA. They were contracted to help manufacture a box build and printed circuit boards, in addition to conducting testing. Since being connected to Pilleve in 2020, Fourstar has produced about 300 boards in two shipments with nearly 40 components on each board.

In June 2020, Pilleve participated in a FORGE Rocket Roundtable event with a curated panel of suppliers that brought relevant expertise in product development, testing, prototyping, and scalable production, and were able to provide startup attendees with knowledge and local resources to solve current manufacturing roadblocks. By presenting alongside two other startups with similar products, they were even able to hear the answers to questions they hadn’t considered before. The Rocket Roundtable provided Pilleve the opportunity to connect directly with suppliers that could help them with their most pressing product challenges. Check out our events page to read previous recaps or register for an upcoming Rocket Roundtable event.

The rise of telehealth in the past year has led to a massive increase in demand for the Pilleve product, even as, like many companies, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pilleve experienced delays in their planned pilot programs. In 2021, the Pilleve team is working with a number of clinics across 5 states to roll out the device (including Johns Hopkins University, Oregon Health Sciences University, University of Washington, New England Baptist and Saint Vincent) and have been getting great feedback and are constantly iterating and improving. FORGE is proud to support startups like Pilleve that are using cutting edge technology to solve society’s toughest problems.