I came across a news posting this morning with the title “FDA approves ‘trackable’ pill”.

I was initially intrigued. However, I was thinking of an entirely different segment of the population, that this type of pill might be useful for. For example, during my work as a medical professional, I often encounter elderly patients who can’t recall if they have taken their medications for the day.  They often have to spend time placing their pills in little containers, with the days of the week on them, to keep track.  These little containers are often not the best solution.  First, more than one of the same pill, can inadvertently, be placed in the same days container, leading to too much of the medication being taken.  Secondly, it’s never a really good idea to take the pills out of the original bottles.  It can be difficult for a patient to remember exactly which medications are which, when removed from the prescription bottle.  Furthermore, there may be special instructions on the prescription bottle, that need to be remembered, for each different medication.  For example, instructions such as, “don’t take with milk”, “take with food”, “don’t take within 2 hours of an antacid”, “avoid grapefruit juice”, and the list goes on.  To summarize, this class of patients may like the idea of technology that would track this information for them.  According to the article, the technology would allow the patient to look at an application on their smart phone, to check if that particular pill had been ingested.  The article also indicates that the information, from the phone application, can optionally be forwarded to their health care provider.

However, this is NOT the class of patients the technology is targeting.  The article indicates that these “trackable” pills are Abilify tablets, often used to treat patients with schizophrenia, or patients with manic episodes associated with bipolar disease.  Treating patients who have schizophrenia, with a pill that is “trackable” does not seem like the best idea.  Patients with schizophrenia, are a group of patients who, by virtue of their particular disease, are sometimes given to believe that they are being secretly monitored.  An individual with schizophrenia often feels paranoia, with a particular belief that others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, and wish to cause them harm. A very common false belief, among individuals with schizophrenia, is that they have been secretly implanted with a chip, or other device, that is “watching” or “controlling” them.  Giving this group of patients a pill that actually does monitor them, does not seem like the best idea, in my humble opinion.

The tablets have an sensor, about the size of a grain of sand, embedded inside the tablet that is activated when it comes into contact with stomach fluid.  The patient then must wear a patch, which will record information from the sensor, and send it to an application on a smart phone.  The article indicates that, “Being able to track ingestion of medications prescribed for mental illness may be useful for some patients” (Mitchell Mathis, Food and Drug Administration).  I understand that medication compliance is often an issue with patients who have mental illness, for a number of reasons.  However, getting the patient to comply with wearing a patch, to track medication compliance, doesn’t seem like the perfect solution.  The patient may be just as “non-compliant” with the idea of wearing the patch to begin with.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how far this new technology goes.  The entire article can be read here:  Read full BBC News Story ~~ CLICK HERE or by visiting the link posted below.  I would love to hear other’s thoughts and opinions, on this new technology, in the comments section below.  I am very interested in hearing other viewpoints on this topic.

Original Article can be read at http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41980836




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