The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a swallow-able sensor called Abilify MyCite which is designed to track health statistics and can even report if a patient takes their medicine. The pill is specifically intended for people with mental health problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The ‘pill’ itself is comprised of a minuscule chip made of magnesium, silicon, and copper and can send information from inside the body to an adhesive patch on the patient’s torso. The patch then sends this information directly to your doctor’s office, as well as to a smartphone app until the chip gets digested naturally.
The digital pill was invented in Japan by Otsuka Pharmaceutical in partnership with Proteus Digital Health. Right now, the digital pill is being paired with Abilify, a drug primarily used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. The benefit is that doctors and other medical staff have better knowledge of how the prescribed medication is being used. While this isn’t the first time that ingestible medical devices were used, it is the first time that an ingestible medical device has been attached to a drug.
The Downside of the Digital Pill
The ‘gotcha’ in this case is the privacy of the patient, and concerns over data being collected from within your body and then made available online. As we have seen with Equifax and many other corporations – your data is only safe in your control. This means that metrics and details about your health and body have the potential to be compromised and used against you. According to Quartz Media,
“The digital pill is only being used with the drug Abilify for now, and is expected to be adopted more broadly to help treat other conditions in which routine drug intake is necessary.”
Would you be willing to take the digital pill?