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US FDA accepts first digital medicine application

Published on 11/09/15 at 11:26am
Proteus system
The digital medicine includes an ingestible sensor and a wearable patch that monitors drug adherence

The FDA has accepted the first New Drug Application for a digital medicine: Otsuka and Proteus Digital Health’s collaboration of Abilify, embedded with an ingestible sensor.

This is the first time an FDA-approved medication has been submitted for approval combined with a sensor within the medication tablet to measure actual medication-taking patterns and physiologic response.

If approved by the FDA, doctors will be allowed to prescribe Abilify (aripiprazole) tablets with the Proteus ingestible sensor embedded in the tablet.

It is hoped that digital medicines may improve patient medication adherence, and that the data they collect will allow the physician to make better-informed decisions to tailor treatment to the individual patient’s needs.

An estimated 50% of patients with chronic diseases in developed countries do not take medicines as prescribed, possibly limiting the effectiveness of those medicines. It is believed that this may result in an estimated $100-300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs in the US alone.

For example, it is not unusual for patients suffering from chronic mental disorders such as schizophrenia, who are often required to take medication for long periods, to discontinue treatment or not take their medication as prescribed, which can lead to disease relapse and recurrence.

The Abilify tablet contains an ingestible sensor that communicates with a wearable sensor patch and a medical software application for measuring adherence in the treatment of adults with schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, and as adjunctive therapy for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults.

When Abilify with the embedded ingestible sensor is taken, the sensor sends a signal to the wearable Proteus patch after it reaches the stomach. The patch records and time-stamps the information from the ingestible sensor in addition to collecting other patient metrics, including rest, body angle and activity patterns.

This information is recorded and relayed to patients and their doctors (with patient consent) on a mobile phone or other Bluetooth-enabled device.

Otsuka and Proteus partnered in 2012, and have since worked on combining Otsuka’s medication with California-based Proteus’s digital health feedback system, which includes the ingestible sensor and biometric sensor patch, which is worn on the patient’s body.  

William Carson, president and chief executive of Otsuka pharmaceutical development and commercialisation, welcomed the possibility of increased adherence, saying: “Today, patients suffering from severe mental illnesses struggle with adhering to or communicating with their healthcare teams about their medication regimen, which can greatly impact outcomes and disease progression.

“We believe this new digital medicine could revolutionise the way adherence is measured and fulfil a serious unmet medical need in this population. We look forward to continuing working with the FDA throughout the NDA review.”

Andrew Thompson, president and chief executive of Proteus Digital Health, says: "Digital Medicines have the potential to move healthcare beyond the proven efficacy of a medicine to understand the real world effectiveness of a therapy for each individual. This means that medicines could be tailored to each of us to reflect our unique medication-taking patterns, lifestyle and daily health choices.”

Joel Levy

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