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Bio-chip featured at government health showcase

A syringe-injectable microchip implant designed to carry medical records and personal identification information underneath the skin of humans is just one of 20 new technologies chosen by the government to be showcased today and Friday at the Healthier U.S. Summit in Baltimore, Md.

The VeriChip Corporation, maker of the microchip, was invited to participate in Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson’s “Technology Showcase” following a selection process whereby government “e-health” experts nominated, discussed and selected 20 technologies believed to have significant potential to boost preventative health care for the public.

The showcase is part of the national summit designed to advance Thompson’s “Steps to a Healthier U.S.” initiative launched in 2003.

Medical and government experts will be making presentations focusing on chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Topics covered will include asthma, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke and cancer, as well as lifestyle choices, including nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use.

The Steps initiative is designed to bring policymakers, the health, education and business communities, and the public together to establish model programs and policies that foster healthy behavior changes, encourage healthier lifestyle choices and reduce disparities in health care.

Referring to the VeriChip, HHS representative Mary Jo Deering told WND, “It’s the only microchip in the showcase. We wanted a variety of technologies presented and this rounded it out nicely.”

Dr. Deering is deputy director for e-health and management in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The office works with the Office of Public Health and Science, Office of the Secretary, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to strengthen the disease prevention and health promotion priorities of the Department.

“As you know, the president just re-stated his commitment to establishing an electronic health records network and standards, especially emphasizing privacy,” Deering told WND, adding, “The HHS funds pilot projects and research into the efficacy and potential of innovative technologies.”

Deering said the HHS looks forward to research results showing what applications of the chosen technologies are most effective.

The VeriChip is a radio frequency identification (RFID) implantable microchip containing a unique 10-digit identification number that can be “read” by a handheld scanner or by a subject walking through a portal reader. The identification number can then be relayed to a database containing the individual’s personal information, or that information can be stored as data directly on the chip, which is wirelessly writeable. The chip can also be placed in a wristband.

The storing of medical records on the chip would require FDA approval. The company is also marketing the chip to a variety of sectors including homeland security as a form of identification and access control where readers would be installed at all entry and exit doors of a building or residence.

“This unique technology showcase is a great opportunity to open the eyes of people new to e-health, to see how these technologies can serve public health needs, ” Deering said.

Scott Silverman, CEO of Applied Digital Solutions (NASDAQ: ADSXD), parent company of the wholly owned VeriChip, commented in a press release: “All of us at VeriChip and ADS are honored that the Department of Health and Human Services has chosen the VeriChip technology to be a part of the Steps to a Healthier U.S. Summit. We believe the health-care application of VeriChip can greatly assist the patient population which is the focus of this important meeting.”

In a 2000 interview with WND, chief scientist behind the chip, Dr. Peter Zhou, indicated he was “very interested” in the possible application of the chip as the universal biometric health-care identifier for which HHS Secretary Donna Shalala had lobbied.

In an interview with WND, Zhou commented, “Before there may have been resistance, but not anymore. People are used to getting implants. New century, new trend.”

Last week VeriChip Corporation also announced that the Italian Ministry of Health has approved a six-month clinical study utilizing the VeriChip health-care application. The study started Friday at the Instituto Nazionale Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, under the auspices of principal investigator Dr. Giorgio Antonucci. The findings will be presented to the Italian Ministry of Health.

At the time of the publication of this report, VeriChip CTO Dr. Keith Bolton had not responded to WND’s request for comment.

Other technologies being featured at the summit emphasize interactive applications that foster proactive and healthy decision-making made in the comfort of one’s home. They include:


Speaking with WND from the Baltimore site, Deputy Director Deering concluded: “We’re excited about the opportunity to show what this array of applications and technologies can contribute to prevention and chronic disease care.”