The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved, for the first time ever, a pill with sensors inside to inform doctors how often the drug was taken. 

Gizmodo reports, they state that the atypical anti-psychotic drug Abilify MyCite was the first medication to be approved with a “digital ingestion tracking system” to record whether the drug was actually digested. 

The FDA said, “The product is approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder and for use as an add-on treatment for depression in adults.”

The “wearable watch”, forwards data to a smartphone app or to caregivers and physicians monitoring their patients’ progress. In a press release, the FDA said that despite approving Ablifiy MyCite, “the ability of the product to improve patient compliance with their treatment regimen has not yet been shown.”

It’s hard to not notice the difficulties that remain surrounding this technology. An ethical debate quickly arises, when a sensor-equipped pill that gives anyone access to the data know exactly how often someone is taking their medication could be problematic. 

Although medical data is still highly protected, big data is increasingly commercialising semi-anonymous records that can be used to reveal information about individual patients. The idea that advertisers would know exactly how often you take our anti-depressants, weight-loss pills, or STD treatments could be potentially concerning.

Regardless, this is all pretty exciting, and proves how far we have come in such a short time.