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FDA Approves New Smart Pill, Raises Concerns Of U.S. Government Spying

Medication.Max Pixel/Max Pixel

For the most part, developing new medical technologies is a huge benefit to people. Take for instance the smart pill that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved, which is meant to monitor if patients are sticking to their medication schedule. While incredibly useful, it could also allow entities like the U.S. government to spy on its citizens even more intrusively than it does now.

No one likes to be spied on and yet this is exactly what concerned privacy groups are saying could happen with the digital pill that the FDA just approved for use. Called the Abilify MyCite, the pill comes with sensors that basically indicate if patients just took their medication, Futurism reports.

Abilify is a drug used to treat neurological conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. The sensor is embedded in the pill, where it will send out a signal once it comes in contact with the stomach. This signal will be picked up by a patch on the patient’s left rib cage, which will then notify the monitoring personnel via the accompanying app.

The information that the sensors can send out can include the dosage, the exact time when the pill was taken, and even what the patient was doing at the time. Because of how intrusive the data mining process appears, groups concerned about potential abuses are speaking out. They are especially worried about potential punitive actions against patients who are committing what’s called nonadherence.

Basically, nonadherence or noncompliance refers to patients not taking their medication as they are supposed to. This leads to patients getting sicker, which then leads to higher medical costs due to the increased medical attention that they need. Apparently, this particular trend costs $100 billion a year, the New York Times reports.

There’s also the concern of medical professionals that a smart pill could lead to a feeling of coercion on the part of the patients. Subjects could feel pressured to take their medication because their doctors are monitoring them.

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