FDA Approved ‘Smart Pills’ That ‘Digitally Track’ Patients — What’s Next?

“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” – Morpheus to Neo, The Matrix

In a January 21st, 2022 column titled “Are RFID Computer Chips the new Mark of the Beast?” we warned:

I have written about how technology can be used for both good and evil. Technology has become ubiquitous, it is everywhere. Our children and grandchildren are becoming more addicted to technology, as they do so the evil side may rear its ugly head.

Will your grandchild become a microchip’s pet? Is it immoral to have a human become the “pet” of a microchip? Is the subcutaneous microchip the new “mark of the beast”?

BTW: Pet is another name for slave.

On November 13th, 2017 the Food and Drug Administration issued a press release titled “FDA approves pill with sensor that digitally tracks if patients have ingested their medication.”

The FDA press release stated:

For Immediate Release:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first drug in the U.S. with a digital ingestion tracking system. Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole tablets with sensor) has an ingestible sensor embedded in the pill that records that the medication was taken. 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 system works by sending a message from the pill’s sensor to a wearable patch. The patch transmits the information to a mobile application so that patients can track the ingestion of the medication on their smart phone. Patients can also permit their caregivers and physician to access the information through a web-based portal.

“Being able to track ingestion of medications prescribed for mental illness may be useful for some patients,” said Mitchell Mathis, M.D., director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA supports the development and use of new technology in prescription drugs and is committed to working with companies to understand how technology might benefit patients and prescribers.”

It is important to note that Abilify MyCite’s prescribing information (labeling) notes that the ability of the product to improve patient compliance with their treatment regimen has not been shown. Abilify MyCite should not be used to track drug ingestion in “real-time” or during an emergency because detection may be delayed or may not occur.

Smart Pills

Smart pills, also known as digital pills, are medications prescribed to patients that are equipped with edible electronic sensors that send wireless message to devices like patches, tablets or smartphones outside the body when they are ingested.

Watch this World Economic Forum discussion on smart pills:

On December 9th, 2019 in a MedCityNews article titled “New ‘smart pill’ maker gains FDA approvalElise Reuter reported:

EtectRx is one of a few companies helping track medication adherence. But some patients find the tech hard to swallow.

As Proteus Digital Health struggles to sell investors on its “smart pills”, a new competitor has entered the space. Florida-based startup etectRx secured approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its sensor technology on Monday.

EtectRx creates tiny wireless sensors that are embedded in medications, which are activated once they reach a patient’s stomach. Patients wear a lanyard-based reader while they’re taking their medicine, which sends that data to a secure smartphone application. It also pushes out a notification to the patient’s physician.

[ … ]

The market for medication adherence is clear. Patients don’t take their medication up to 50% of the time, according to a 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Pharmaceutical companies also have a stake in adherence; they lose billions each year when patients don’t refill their prescriptions.

[ … ]

Like many of its peers, the company will also face challenges in securing patients’ trust and keeping costs low.  Competitor Proteus faced obstacles with the cost of Abilify MyCite, which rings in at $1,650 per month, well over the cost of the generic equivalent. Some patients also had privacy qualms over the solution, which involved wearing a patch that would detect when the medication was taken.

The Bottom Line

On February 25th, 2020 MedShadow.org’s healthy skeptic Suzanne B. Robotti wrote:

Abilify’s Digital Tracker: Did Big Brother just enter your body through your medicine?

The manufacturers of Abilify introduced a “smart pill” version called Abilify MyCite (digital aripiprazol) which tracks if a patient has taken the pill– it’s a digital ingestion tracking system.

[ … ]

The sensor (which was approved separately from Abilify) that is embedded in Abilify its own set of side effect risks. The manufacturing company notes that more than 12% of those in the clinical trial suffered from skin rashes in reaction to the patch used to receive the transmission from the pill. I couldn’t find any information on how the body expels the sensor and the effect of wireless transmission from inside a body.

[ … ]

The base drug, Abilify (aripiprazole) has significant side effects, the most serious are an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults taking antidepressants, but there are many others, too. See the interviews with Candida Fink, MD below. Dr. Fink is a member of MedShadow’s Medical Advisory Board.

“Looking into this, it seems like there was almost no quality research at all done on the ‘digital’ Abilify – comparing risks  or outcomes – with standard Abilify. None of my colleagues have used it,” Dr Fink told MedShadow. “Personally, I would not see a reason to use it without more data.”


Overall, 18.0% of children aged 0–11 years, 27.0% of adolescents aged 12–19, 46.7% of adults aged 20–59, and 85.0% of adults aged 60 and over used prescription drugs in the past 30 days.

Prescription drug use among males at 41.5% but is less than females who are at 50.0%, although the pattern differs by age.

As we are prescribed medication can the government mandate, for our own health, we take smart pills?

Is this the next step in big brother is watching you?

To take a smart pill or not to take a smart pill, that is the question.

How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?

©Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.

3 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *