Abilify Mycite -  A new breed of digital innovation

Abilify MyCite was approved in November 2017 by the FDA. The medication contains aripiprazole with an ingestible sensor that digitally tracks whether the patient has taken it. It aims to address the unmet need of non-compliance in psychiatric patients who suffer from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

This newly approved pill is a collaboration between Abilify’s manufacturer Otsuka and Proteus Digital Health (a Californian based digital medicine company which created the ingestible sensor). The sensor is made of silicon, copper and magnesium and is embedded within the pill. The sensor is activated when it dissolves in the stomach which in turn sends an electrical signal to a wearable patch. The patch contains a receiver which relays all the data including pill ingestion and patient activity levels via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. Consequently, doctors, selected family members and healthcare teams can access the data and make informed decisions regarding future treatment plans as well as making correlations between compliance, emotional state, time the pill was taken and physiological parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

A recent research study revealed that the United States Federal Government spends approximately $100 billion a year due to non-compliance to medication. This was due to patients requiring further treatment as a result of relapse and/or additional need to be hospitalized.

Furthermore, a study published by Phan 2016, revealed the severity of the non-compliance issue in schizophrenic patients and suggested that interventions are necessary in order to avoid relapse, functional decline, and increased risk of death.

Abilify Mycite provides a great intervention to combat the issue of drug non-compliance in order to prevent patients being institutionalised and instead providing them with an opportunity to rehabilitate by receiving outpatient care. This enables patients to have a better quality of treatment and life, reduction in psychiatric symptoms as well as improving health outcomes.

Dr Dolores Malaspina, Director of the Psychosis Program at the Ichan School of Medicine told Healio Psychiatry. “An important cause of noncompliance is also executive brain dysfunction that causes a person to forget the medication and a pill with a sensor will be helpful.” (Demko, 2019)

However, patients suffering from schizophrenia exhibit symptoms such as delusions, paranoia and fear which may be exacerbated due to the tracking technology Abilify Mycite utilizes. Another downside is the possibility of adherence data being used against the patient by health insurance companies in countries like the USA.

In conclusion, the approval of Abilify Mycite, the first digitalized medicine system, enables physicians, selected family members and healthcare teams to help individuals with mental illnesses to engage in a more open dialogue as well as having insight into their treatment plans. The key to managing long term conditions is drug compliance. This will improve health outcomes and Abilify Mycite is a perfect example of this. Furthermore, the data that is acquired will impact the pharmaceutical industry as there will be wider access to real world data on drug compliance in psychiatric patients which could result in further research and development into the potential of digital pills. Depending on the success of Abilify Mycite, there may be an influx of digital pills being prescribed in a new era of healthcare which is becoming more innovative and data driven.

Zaine Jussab (Sales Executive)

References

1. Phan, S. (2016). Medication adherence in patients with schizophrenia. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 51(2), pp.211-219.

2. Demko, S. (2019). Digital sensor in antipsychotic may improve medication adherence. [online] Healio.com. Available at: https://www.healio.com/psychiatry/schizophrenia/news/online/%7Beb5f5a01-866e-49f5-934c-560a6ea3ba7d%7D/digital-sensor-in-antipsychotic-may-improve-medication-adherence [Accessed 11 Jan. 2019].