The First Pill Goes Digital: Abilify MyCite ®

Kristin Howlett, PharmD, Park Nicollet

This past November, the first digital pill was approved by the FDA. The antipsychotic, aripiprazole, which is approved for acute manic and mixed episodes of bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia, and as adjunctive treatment for major depressive disorder, will be manufactured as Abilify MyCite®. Abilify MyCite’s® embedded sensor will allow for patients and clinicians to track when a pill was ingested.

The sensor within the pill contains magnesium and cuprous chloride which is activated upon contact with gastric fluids. It signals to a skin patch worn on the patient’s abdomen. The skin patch then sends a signal to a patient’s cell phone app when it is time for a dose and if it is not taken. Patients may allow their healthcare providers and others access to the pill tracking information on a website.

There is not currently evidence that this technology will increase adherence. Critics have commented that patients with paranoia may already have fears of being tracked; although others argue that these patients build a trusting relationship with their clinician and may find benefit in pill-tracking technology to improve medication adherence.

A small feasibility study with Abilify MyCite® in 28 people with mild bipolar disorder or schizophrenia showed no increase in psychoses exacerbations. Overall, 21 of the 27 participants who completed the study agreed that they would like to receive reminders on their phones if they missed a dose, 24 agreed the technology could be useful to them, and 19 thought the technology was easy to understand.

The manufacturers, Proteus Digital Health, Inc and Otsuka Pharmaceutical, aim for a limited roll-out to gauge feedback for this new product. Some speculate this could be the next disruptive technology: could this become the mainstay of medication use in the future?

 References:

  1. Voekler, R. News from the food and drug administration: digital pill gains approval. JAMA. 2018;319(1):14.

  2. D’Arrigo, T. The first medication with embedded ingestible sensor tracks adherence. Pharmacy Today. 2018;24(1):20.

  3. Rosenbaum, L. Swallowing a spy—the potential uses of digital adherence monitoring. NEJM; 2018; 378(2):101-103.