FDA approves digital pill capable of tracking medication digestion

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first digital pill with an ingestion tracking system to tell physicians whether patients have taken their medication.

Problems related to medication adherence cost billions a year with patients failing to take their mediation on time or at all. The Abilify MyCite system monitors a patient’s medication intake by sending a message from the pill’s sensor to a wearable patch. The patch then sends data to a mobile app, where patients and providers can view the information.

While research has not investigated the effectiveness of the system in improving mediation adherence, developers hope the monitoring could create an environment where patients feel inclined to take their medication if they have to check in with their physician.

“Being able to track ingestion of medications prescribed for mental illness may be useful for some patients,” said Mitchell Mathis, MD, director of the division of the 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.”

Currently, MyCite is approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes of bipolar disorder and an add-on treatment for depression in adults. Additionally, the system should not be used for tracking ingestion in real-time or during a medical emergency because results could be delayed or not occur.