May 23, 2018

In the United States approved a "smart" tablet with sensor

16 November 2017, 02:01 | Rudolph Thomas

A digital pill with an embedded sensor to track if patients are taking their medication. REUTERS Proteus Digital Health

A digital pill with an embedded sensor to track if patients are taking their medication. REUTERS  Proteus Digital Health

The FDA approved Abilify MyCite for treating a number of mental disorders including schizophrenia, manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar 1 disorder.

There are a couple of caveats, though. Abilify MyCite is also not approved to treat older patients with dementia-related psychosis.

Abilify MyCite should not be used to track "real-time" medication ingestion because detection may be delayed or may not occur, the company warns.

The sensor itself is about the size of a grain of sand. The ingestible sensor is activated by gastric juices and sends a unique, identifying signal to a wearable patch.

It's the first drug in the country with a digital ingestion tracking system, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which announced the approval on Monday. For instance, patients could feel pressured to use the brand-name digital tracking drugs by doctors or insurance companies.

Would you be happy taking a tablet that beams information to your smartphone?

The smart pill's manufacturers - Otsuka (which makes Abilify) and Proteus (the IEM developer) - bill their innovation as "the first digital medicine system", which they say will make it easier for caregivers to objectively monitor patients' adherence to medication regimens.

Apparently, this particular trend costs $100 billion a year, the New York Times reports. And as with most technological steps forward, it also raises questions about privacy, bioethics, and the use of big data from inside your body.

The technology is meant to help prevent risky emergencies that can occur when patients skip their medication, such as manic episodes experienced by those suffering from bipolar disorder.

The information that the sensors can send out can include the dosage, the exact time when the pill was taken, and even what the patient was doing at the time. A person who suffers from this mental disorder appears to be out of touch with reality.

Abilify MyCite is not approved to treat patients with dementia-related psychosis and contains a boxed warning alerting health care professionals that elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death. "I see a difference in using this technology to help people comply, as many people want to, versus a way to have families or the courts scrutinize their behavior".

In the same article, Eric Topol, MD, director of Scripps Translational Science Institute, predicted that payers might eventually offer financial incentives to use digital bills, but anxious about the ethical issues that could present themselves if the if the technology was "so much incentivized that it's nearly is like coercion".

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