Swallow Your Digital Pill - FOX10 News | WALA

Swallow Your Digital Pill

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In what could be a game changer in health industry, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever drug tracker pill.

The landmark regulatory clearance underscores the high-tech evolution in how drugs are delivered into the body.  Specifically, this pill will let doctors know whether you've taken your Abilify pills.

Here's how it all works

The system works by sending a message from the pill’s sensor to a wearable patch. The patch transmits the information to a mobile application so that patients can track the ingestion of the medication on their smart phone. Patients can also permit their caregivers and physician to access the information through a web-based portal.

“Being able to track ingestion of medications prescribed for mental illness may be useful for some patients,” said Mitchell Mathis, M.D., director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA supports the development and use of new technology in prescription drugs and is committed to working with companies to understand how technology might benefit patients and prescribers.”

The tracker itself is really small, about the size of a grain of sand, and apparently made up of ingredients found in food.  Doctors and health care providers have to get your permission first to track the data...much like those opt-in car insurance tracking devices customers can get discounts for if they install the device in their cars.

But it's not just driving.   People turn to digital tracking to help them stick with all sorts of regimens, including exercise, diet, and spending.  The idea with the Abilify MyCite pill is to help people remember to take their meds.

But some critics are calling it big brother and are suspicious because the drug it's combined with treats mental illness.  The FDA argues the opposite, and says the digital pill could actually be helpful for patients with mental illness...since taking their medications as prescribed is crucial.

Abilify was first approved by the FDA in 2002 to treat schizophrenia. The ingestible sensor used in Abilify MyCite was first permitted for marketing by the FDA in 2012.

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