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A Hard Pill to Swallow: Medication with built-in adherence monitor

On November 13th the FDA approved Abilify MyCite, the first pill that contains a sensor to monitor whether or not the patient is taking her medication. This event ticks several boxes, cutting edge science and technology, a boon to the forgetful, a giant step forward for obtaining data and a giant step backward for what remains of privacy.

Ironically (Kafka couldn’t make this up) Abilify is a drug used to treat paranoia. One can only imagine the psychiatrist’s conversation with a paranoid patient. “So this new pill has a device in it that tells us whether you’re taking your medication or not. It will help us help you.” No problem.

The pill combines the antipsychotic, aripiprazole, with Proteus’s ingestible event marker (IEM). The IEM is activated in the stomach. There it sends a message to a wearable patch that transmits to a mobile application on the patient’s smart phone and is accessible to caregivers through a web-based portal. This last bit requires patient permission.

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