In the days of old, you had to keep yourself honest when taking your medications. You had your plastic pill organizer ready, loaded with everything you needed for a happy, healthy life. Adhering to a schedule for your medicines depended on you and maybe a friend or family member. Thanks to a recent approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration, your doctor is now able to make sure that you take your vitamins.
Abilify MyCite is the world’s first digital pill. The antipsychotic drug, used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia, contains a tiny sensor. This sensor activates when it comes into contact with the liquids in your stomach. Once activated, the pill communicates with a patch on the patient that transmits data to a doctor.
Healthcare professionals hope that the breakthrough can aid in the very expensive issue of non-adherence. From coronary issues and high cholesterol to myriad psychological ailments, non-adherence affects a variety of patients who, for whatever reason, fail to take the prescribed medications.
While some laud the digital pill as a boon to the future of medicine, others have voiced concerns over privacy. For many, external surveillance is bad enough. Widespread implementation of digital pills could lead to a “Big Brother” of the biomedical field. Outside forces, doctors, hospitals, or perhaps even private corporations and the government, could use biological data to track and control patients. Professionals also worry that institutions might require digital medications as a condition for releasing patients from psychiatric facilities or for prisoners on parole.
In light of these recent innovations, how do you feel about the future of medicine? Do you think that all medications will one day come with a sensor to make sure that you’re taking them? Is it an invasion of privacy for people to track your biology? What does this new treatment mean for the future of HIPAA? Digital pills raise a plethora of questions. Let us know your thoughts.