FDA approves first ever digital tracker pill; Psychiatrist says “may be the first step”
by Patrick Thomas
November 28th, 2017

Psychiatrist Jacqueline Feldman

Psychiatrist Jacqueline Feldman

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A digital sensor can now detect whether you take your prescriptions.

The FDA has given approval for one psychiatric medicine.

ABC 33/40 sat down with a psychiatrist about what this could mean for patient-doctor relationships and if it has a broader usage. The drug is Abilify MyCite. It’s for people with mental illness. According to the FDA, it digitally tracks if patients are swallowing their medications.

A first ever FDA approved digitally-sensored pill may help doctors better monitor their patients’ mental health. UAB Psychiatrist, Dr. Jacqueline Feldman, is willing to give it a chance. Dr. Feldman said, “I think this is going to help the prescribing physician, to ensure that the patient is taking their medicines.”

The pill works inside the patients’ body like this: a patient swallows the medicine, then a sensor inside the pill sets off a signal on an arm patch, the arm patch transmits data to the patient’s smart phone who can choose to send it to the doctor’s computer. “Developed to attempt to to increase and improve adherence to medication regimens,” Dr. Feldman told ABC 33/40.

The drug can be used for schizophrenia and some forms of bipolar disorder.

But Dr. Feldman does have concerns. “Oftentimes my patients with schizophrenia struggle with the delusion that they are being monitored,” she explained. “Taking a pill for somebody who finds it hard to be monitored, might be hard for them to understand.”

She says convincing her patients is already difficult because they don’t always follow the doctor’s advice. Dr. Feldman explained, “It makes me scary for them.”

Transparency is key for Dr. Feldman with whoever is taking it. “By saying this is how I can be a better doctor for you,” said Dr. Feldman.

Because she explains the pill is a type of admission. “Those are conundrums for patients. To take a medicine means I have an illness, I have a chronic illness and I have to take this medicine,” said Dr. Feldman.

Dr. Feldman doesn’t rule out what diseases it can treat.

She feels the technology can go way beyond the boundaries of psychiatry.

She says people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic physical illnesses could possibly benefit from this innovation.

Jacqueline Feldman

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