Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Do You Want Digital Pills to Report When You Take Them?

The FDA has just approved the first digital pills that will transmit an electronic signal so you can track if and when you take them.

Doctors often worry that patients are not taking their medications as prescribed. Now the FDA has approved digital pills that will allow health professionals to track patients’ compliance. Essentially, the pills will be equipped with tiny transmitters that will report when you take them.

Will Digital Pills Increase Compliance?

The medication FDA has approved in this new formulation is the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole, known by the brand name Abilify. Abilify MyCite will transmit an electronic signal showing when the pill is swallowed.

Dr. Peter Kramer, author of the book, Listening to Prozac, describes this as “packaging a medication with a tattletale.” The FDA is requiring informed consent from patients and the reports will be managed through a cell-phone app that will, in theory, allow patients to revoke consent for monitoring if they change their minds.

Why Abilify?

We suppose that aripiprazole was chosen for this application because people with mental illness are not always reliable about taking prescribed medication. Presumably, the drug would work better if taken conscientiously. On the other hand, people with schizophrenia sometimes feel paranoid and may find such monitoring too intrusive. The FDA notes that they do not have data showing that the digital pills improve patient compliance.

Rate this article
4.6- 7 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.