The FDA has approved the first pill to have an embedded sensor that reports whether patients have taken it, ushering in a new era of smart pharmaceuticals. With this treatment, called Abilify MyCite, doctors can know first-hand if their patients are adhering to the prescription. The drug is a product of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., while the sensor technology comes from Proteus Digital Health.
Although Abilify has been around since it was approved in 2002 for the treatment of schizophrenia, the approval of such a digital pill-technology combo opens up a wide range of possibilities, even as pills continue to affect more lives each day. According to a 2015 study published in JAMA, the percentage of adults taking five or more prescription…show more content… After a few minutes, the signal is detected by a patch that is worn on the left rib cage like a band-aid and must be replaced every seven days. The date and time of pill ingestion, as well as the patient’s level of activity, are then sent to a smartphone via Bluetooth. A mobile app allows one to add their mood and resting hours before transmitting the information to a database that physicians and others who have permission from the patient can access. The app also allows patients to block or add recipients whenever they want.
Though the technology is only available for the drug Abilify, it has many potential uses. For one, it could be used to monitor opioid consumption in post-surgical patients or to determine whether participants in clinical trials took the drugs being tested.
What’s more, insurers might eventually offer incentives to patients who use them, such as discounts on copayments, says Dr. Eric Topol, the director of Scripps Translational Science Institute. He warned that ethical issues could arise should the technology be “incentivized so much that it appeared to be coercion.”
One more situation that might be requiring patients to take digital medication is as a condition for parole or getting released from psychiatric facilities.
Meanwhile, another technology – AiCure – has already had success with tuberculosis patients at the Los Angeles County Health Department as well as in Illinois, according to