The networked pill is here.
The FDA just approved the first U.S. drug with a digital ingestion tracking system.
The digital pill, called Abilify MyCite, has a sensor inside that records that the medication was taken.
The pill doesn’t really work alone; it sends a message from its sensor to a wearable patch, which then transmits the info to a mobile app.
The idea is that patients can track the ingestion of the medication on their smartphone.
This particular trackable pill is used to treat schizophrenia.
Trackable medication has been in the works for many years.
In 2008, MIT Technology Review documented a Silicon Valley startup that developed a system that identified pill taking by using sensors that monitored the body’s responses.
Of course, there are potential unintended consequences and countless potential minefields around trackable pills.
For example, doctors or insurance companies could track whether certain medications were taken and incent or penalize certain behaviors.
In one type of system, a pill’s signal is sent electrically via skin tissues and could be detected remotely by a company wanting to check what medications potential employees are taking, as noted in the 2008 MIT story.
In the Internet of Things, anything that moves can be tracked.
Whether it should be tracked is an entirely different issue.