Abilify’s Digital Tracker: Did Big Brother just enter your body through your medicine? The manufacturers of Abilify introduced a “smart pill” version called Abilify MyCite (digital aripiprazol) which tracks if a patient has taken the pill– it’s a digital ingestion tracking system.
According to the FDA, “The system works by sending a message from the pill’s sensor to a wearable patch. The patch transmits the information to a mobile application so that patients can track the ingestion of the medication on their smartphone. Patients can also permit their caregivers and physician to access the information through a web-based portal.”
There’s a theoretical benefit for patients who have mental illness that interferes with their willingness to take medicine. However, the research presented to the FDA did not prove that those prescribed Abilify were any more likely to take it with the new sensor. Presently about 41% of bipolar patients and 42% of schizophrenia patients stop taking or refuse to take medical treatment for psychiatric illness. What is the point of tracking if a patient took the pill when the patient chooses not to? Refusing medical care is a personal choice.
The sensor (which was approved separately from Abilify) that is embedded in Abilify its own set of side effect risks. The manufacturing company notes that more than 12% of those in the clinical trial suffered from skin rashes in reaction to the patch used to receive the transmission from the pill. I couldn’t find any information on how the body expels the sensor and the effect of wireless transmission from inside a body.
The base drug, Abilify (aripiprazole) has significant side effects, the most serious are an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults taking antidepressants, but there are many others, too. See the interviews with Candida Fink, MD below. Dr. Fink is a member of MedShadow’s Medical Advisory Board.
“Looking into this, it seems like there was almost no quality research at all done on the ‘digital’ Abilify – comparing risks or outcomes – with standard Abilify. None of my colleagues have used it,” Dr Fink told MedShadow. “Personally, I would not see a reason to use it without more data.”
Pharmaceutical companies should take a look at why people don’t want to take their drugs – most say that it robs them of their personality and leaves them feeling emotionless. The road to better compliance is through better medicine, not tracking people internal tracking devices like lost pets.
For those considering, refusing or taking Abilify, view this interview with Dr. Fink who has worked with Abilify and similar drugs for years.