Experts raise eyebrows at digital pill to monitor patients with schizophrenia
The Food and Drug Administration announced its approval Monday for the first digital medicine—a melding of a long-standing drug for schizophrenia—Abilify (aripiprazole tablets)—with an edible sensor that reports when it’s ingested. Together, they make Abilify MyCite.
Though the approval is a long time coming, the choice of an antipsychotic medicine for this advance is raising the eyebrows of some experts.
The digital ingestion tracking system works by embedding each Abilify tablet with a sensor “the size of a grain of sand,” according to the company behind it, Proteus Digital Health. The ingestible sensor is activated by gastric juices and sends a unique, identifying signal to a wearable patch. That patch automatically logs the date and time of the signal (as well as other basic health information) and can transmit that information via Bluetooth to a paired mobile device. The patient can sign consent forms to allow their doctors and up to four other people to receive the data. But, the app that works with the digital drug system allows patients to revoke access to data at any time.