Digital pill

Digital Pill: Spying on You From the Inside?

The FDA has approved a digital pill for mental health treatment that lets doctors know if and when the patient has taken it, heralding a disturbing new era of medical surveillance. The pill also sends a low-voltage electric shock to the patient’s brain if the medication is not taken as directed, gently reminding them to do so. (OK, we’re just kidding about that second part.) The New York Times gushed that the approval “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.” However, Dr. Peter Kramer, a psychiatrist and the author of “Listening to Prozac,” raised concerns: While ethical for “a fully competent patient who wants to lash him or herself to the mast,” he said, “‘digital drug’ sounds like a potentially coercive tool.” The drug treatment, called Abilify MyCite, delivers antipsychotic aripiprazole, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. According to the Times, “Abilify is an arguably unusual choice for the first sensor-embedded medicine.” —TV

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