FDA to Consider 'Smart Pill'

Abilify modified into 'smart pill' would alert doctors if it's not taken on schedule


The medication Abilify (aripiprazole) may be on the verge of becoming substantially more user-friendly.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to review a device created by the California-based company Proteus, reports The Daily Mail. If approved, the device would accompany Abilify (used to treat depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) and alert health care professionals when a patient doesn't take the drug on schedule.

The Daily Mail reports that up to 50 percent of patients in developed countries don't take their medications as prescribed, creating a potential need for a "smart pill" that would empower doctors to more closely monitor those at greatest risk.

"Today, patients suffering from severe mental illnesses struggle with adhering to or communicating with their health care teams about their medication regimen, which can greatly impact outcomes and disease progression," explained William Carson, a representative from Abilify manufacturer Otsuka, per The Daily Mail. "We believe this new Digital Medicine could revolutionize the way adherence is measured and fulfill a serious unmet medical need in this population. We look forward to continuing working with the FDA throughout the [new drug application] review."

For now, Proteus' device would be embedded into Abilify pills, sending radio signals to a skin patch when taken. The system can be monitored by smartphone, making it a potentially simple and useful tool for doctors. Patients still must offer their consent for the data to be distributed to a doctor.

The device could also open the door for a new generation of high-tech and highly personalized medicine, according to Proteus Digital Health President and CEO Andrew Thompson.

"Digital Medicines have the potential to move health care beyond the proven efficacy of a medicine to understand the real world effectiveness of a therapy for each individual," Thompson told The Daily Mail. "This means that medicines could be tailored to each of us to reflect our unique medication-taking patterns, lifestyle and daily health choices."

Now it's in the hands of the FDA.