iPhone Urinalysis App Draws U.S. Government Scrutiny
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a letter to BioSense Technologies over its iPhone uChek urinalysis system, asking why its medical app hasn't been cleared by the agency. The app is one of the first that turns the iPhone into a medical device, designed to read urinalysis test strips that are normally examined by users and compared to a color-coded chart.
With the uChek system, patients can take a picture of the strip with the iPhone's camera and then receive an automated readout of parameters like glucose, urobilinogen, pH, ketone and more. The app also stores results which then can be analyzed over time.
Though medical device makers have adopted the iPhone for some measurements like blood glucose monitoring for diabetics, large scale use of smartphones and tablets as a replacement for existing medical devices has yet to take off -- likely due in large part to government regulation of medical devices.
Biosense Technologies Private Ltd.’s uChek system isn’t cleared by the Food and Drug Administration and the agency said it wants to know why not, in a first-of-its-kind letter to a maker of a mobile-device application. The app relies on users, such as diabetics checking their glucose, to dip test strips in urine and use the smartphone’s camera to allow the system to processes and generate automated results.
UChek works with test strips made by Siemens AG (SIE) and Bayer AG (BAYN), which are only approved for visual reading and require new clearance for automated analysis, the FDA said in the letter. The agency has said it wants stricter rules for apps that directly diagnose or treat conditions, proposing in 2011 to apply similar quality standards as for heart stents, ultrasound machines and other medical devices.
The uChek kit can be purchased in the US and India for $40, while the uCheck iPhone app is a free download [Direct Link] from the App Store -- though the app can also manually read urine strips from other companies.