The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first “digital pill,” called “Abilify MyCite.” It is a prescription with a sensor that can tell medical professionals whether patients take medicine and at what time.
According to The New York Times the endorsement, reported late on Monday, is a considerable progress in the developing field of computerized devices intended to monitor medication use and to address the costly issue that a large number of patients don’t take their medication as prescribed.
Non-adherence to medication recommendations is estimated to cost about $100 billion per year, because many patients need extra treatment or even hospitalization. To use the digital medication patients can sign consent forms allowing their doctor and up to four family members to see which day and time they took the prescribed medication. A mobile app will allow patients to block any recipient whenever they want.
Other organizations are creating advanced medical technologies, including another ingestible sensor and visual recognition innovation that will confirm that patient has swallowed the pill. Some digital devices are already being tested in patients with HIV, heart issues, diabetes, and other conditions. This new technology may be useful when it comes to older people who might occasionally forget to take their pills and would like some assistance.
This new technology might be used to see if patients after surgery took too much pain-killing medication. Insurers might encourage patients to use the digital pills by offering discounts or reduced copayments. Another high usage might be seen among prescribed patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders. Many of these diagnosed patients do not take their medication regularly because of side effects, which results in harmful consequences.
The pill works by using a sensor that contains copper, magnesium, and silicon. When splashed by stomach fluid it creates a signal which is detected by a patch that has to be worn on the left rib cage, and replaced every week. The patch then processes the data, and sends the time of pill ingestion to a mobile app using Bluetooth and to a database that permitted doctors can access. The price of this pill has not yet been determined.
A new mobile-based visual recognition called AiCure has had success among tuberculosis patients. EtectRx is another ingestible sensor which has been tested with people taking opioids and HIV patients. It is made of silver chloride and magnesium and doesn’t require patients to wear a patch. Instead, a “reader” worn around the neck detects the signal. It’s unclear how patients will react to the new digital pill. However, many different devices are being tested and might be available on the market soon, and the technology certainly has interesting applications and the potential to reduce health care expenses.