First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical ‘Big Brother’

Nov 16, 2017

By Pam Belluck

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill — a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.

The approval, announced late on Monday, marks a significant advance in the growing field of digital devices designed to monitor medicine-taking and to address the expensive, longstanding problem that millions of patients do not take drugs as prescribed.

Experts estimate that so-called nonadherence or noncompliance to medication costs about $100 billion a year, much of it because patients get sicker and need additional treatment or hospitalization.

“When patients don’t adhere to lifestyle or medications that are prescribed for them, there are really substantive consequences that are bad for the patient and very costly,” said Dr. William Shrank, chief medical officer of the health plan division at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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4 comments on “First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical ‘Big Brother’

  • @OP – For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill — a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.

    I think this will be useful for keeping track of prescribed medicines – particularly for people who need a selection of different pills.

    As well as informing doctors if patients are making effective use of their medications, it will also help patients to keep track and keep to the right doses, avoiding missing pills, or accidentally taking double doses when they forget what they have already taken.

    Pills in blister packs labelled with the days of the week, are also helpful in keeping track in this regard! – Especially for the old and befuddled, or those of limited intelligence.



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  • “Noncompliance”…….Doesn’t that say it in one word? In the USA we have had a epidemic of doctors over prescribing medications, sometimes due to marketing forces. (kickbacks)
    If, I took all the medications prescribed to me, it would be about twenty pills twice a day. If that doesn’t destroy your liver, nothing will.
    Now, our “noncompliance”, will result in a notice to our insurance company and doctor? And how will the Veterans care system handle this? Will it still be “voluntary”?
    The sale of these medications will increase if this is someday required. I hope that is not the end goal.



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  • alf1200 #3
    Nov 26, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    One other legal problem.
    If a person appears before a Judge,
    can the judge supoena a persons medical records with the medication “noncompliance”?

    I think you could make a case, if some gun wielding person is arrested, and questioned about regularly taking their anti-psychotic meds!

    If, I took all the medications prescribed to me, it would be about twenty pills twice a day.
    If that doesn’t destroy your liver, nothing will.

    Perhaps you should discuss your concerns with your doctor, and agree on changes.

    In the USA we have had a epidemic of doctors over prescribing medications,
    sometimes due to marketing forces. (kickbacks)

    Now, our “noncompliance”, will result in a notice to our insurance company and doctor?

    This comes back to trust (or the lack of it) in the US commercial basis for medical services.

    In the UK, any citizen has access to taxation funded basic medical services, with standard charges to workers and a free service to pensioners and the chronically sick, for prescriptions.

    The problem with non-compliance, is the purchase and waste of expensive medicines.

    In the UK private medical insurance is a top-up over and above basic services, for a convenient priority quick service, non-essential cosmetic treatment, or foreign holiday cover.



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