U.S. Says Human Chip Implants Don't Need Regulation For Some Uses

By Agence France-Presse Applied Digital Solutions, which makes a microchip that can be implanted under the skin, said Oct. 22 that U.S. authorities ruled that the device does not have to be regulated when used for non-medical purposes. The company said the Food and Drug Administration ruling on the VeriChip device opens the door to market the implant for security and financial applications. The chip could be used, for example, as an identifier for building entry, or to verify access to bank cash machines or to access cars or computers. "This could be used to control access to secure areas of airports, to nuclear power plants, you can ensure that you are who you say you are," said company spokesman Matthew Cossolotto. But Cossolotto acknowledged that the FDA ruling may require regulation if the VeriChip is used for one of its initial purposes, to store personal medical and health information that can be read by a special scanner. The FDA specified that VeriChip is considered a regulated medical device "when marketed to provide information to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of injury or illness," the company said. "This doesn't mean it can't be used," said Cossolotto. "It just means that it would be regulated. It's not completely clear, and we'll continue to work with the FDA on this." The Florida-based company stopped distributing the VeriChip after a highly publicized launch in May to allow the FDA review. Cossolotto said the company, which also makes a "wearable" global positioning (GPS) device that can be used to help find lost or missing persons or pets, is continuing its research on an implantable device with GPS capabilities. He noted that the main obstacle to an implantable GPS device is the size -- currently the size of a matchbook. "We're trying to get it small enough," he said. "We have a lot of interest for an implantable GPS device, particularly in Latin America." Cossolotto said any such device might have to be reviewed again by U.S. health authorities. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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