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FDA Approves Digital Drug Tracking System

  • December 13, 2017
  • RPh on the Go

digital prescriptionsOne of the biggest issues any doctor or pharmacist faces is the patient who doesn’t always take their medications as directed. We can see it happen often with mental health patients, but it’s a problem all across the board.  Additionally, if a medicine is not working, a digital drug tracking system can help someone figure out why.

Welcome to The New Age

Abilify MyCite is the name of this new drug with a digital tracking system; Abilify is used to treat various mental health issues, primarily schizophrenia, bipolar 1 disorder, and some depression disorders, while MyCite is the name of the digital tracking system. Some patients who take Abilify forget to take their meds or make their own decision to stop taking the medications that they need. This aripiprazole tablet holds a tiny sensor that sends information to a wearable tracker that, in turn, sends the information to an app on a phone or tablet.

Helping the Doctor

For now, the digital pill tracks when the medication is taken. A patient can allow for the doctor to track it on an online portal to make medication management easy. It can assist the doctor in evaluating how well the medication is working and if changes need to occur. The only loophole is that a patient can deny access to the doctor, thus making it possible for a patient to go off their meds even with the tracker. If there are any concerns about a sensor sitting inside the body, the sensor is digestible, and any waste will be easily passed like anything else that travels through in the stomach.

Side Effects

The potential side effects are not pleasant, but can generally be tolerated. They include: vomiting, insomnia, constipation, dizziness, akathisia, anxiety, restlessness, and irritation at the location of the tracking patch. Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis can be at risk of death using this medication. Children, adolescents, and young adults are all at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Doctors should consider all risk factors long before they prescribe it.

Digital Pills Are Not New

Digital pills have been on international markets for a while, Abilify MyCite is simply the first FDA-approved drug for the USA. Last year, British Airways marketed their own digital pill that monitors temperature, stomach acidity, and other symptoms related to jet lag. They wanted to assist travelers in any way they could to make traveling and jet lag easier to deal with.

As pharmacists, it’s important that we continue to encourage patients to stay on their meds and improve their mental health. While the digital tracking system in Abilify MyCite is not perfect, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. If you have a patient struggling with taking their Abilify as prescribed, consider discussing with them about Abilify MyCite and encourage them to ask their doctor if they are an appropriate candidate for this type of medication management.

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