The rollout of the digital health pill, which Otsuka is calling AbilfyMyCite, is believed to be the first smart healthcare pill to be rolled out to treat mental health disorders—and for digital pills in general.

The U.S. healthcare market is about to get its first—and pricey—digital healthcare pill ready for widespread use.

Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc., a division of Otsuka Holdings Co. in Tokyo and a large international drug maker with annual sales in excess of $11 billion, has signed an agreement with Magellan Health, a for-profit managed healthcare company focused on behavioral healthcare and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, to begin distribution of a medication for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The drug, known as Aripiprazole, will be a tablet embedded with an ingestible sensor and used in conjunction with a patch and downloadable app, to help patients take their medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder on time and in the correct dose.

The drug is priced at about $1,650 for a monthly dose and will be distributed by Magellan Health to certain Medicaid patients in select states, although how many patients and in what states have yet to be announced.

The rollout of the digital health pill, which Otsuka is calling AbilfyMyCite, is believed to be the first smart healthcare pill to be rolled out to treat mental health disorders—and for digital pills in general. “The opportunity for new insights to drive personalized care for the individual will also allow us to enhance our digital tools and care management model that we offer for our members,” says Magellan CEO Sam Srivastava.

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The AbilfyMyCite digital pill was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in November. For its initial use, Otsuka has developed what it calls the AbilfyMyCite to use digital and mobile health tools if the tablet with a sensor has been taken.

The system includes:

  • The sensor-equipped tablet
  • A body patch equipped with a sensor
  • The AbilfyMyCite app and web portal and digital dashboard for use by healthcare providers.

The digital pill is a sensor the size of a grain of sand and made up of ingredients found in food. The sensor activates when in contact with stomach fluid and communicates to a patch equipped with a wearable sensor that detects and records the date and time of the ingestion of the tablet, as well as certain physiological data such as activity level, and communicates this and the tablet ingestion data to an app and a mobile device.

The app allows patients to review their medication dose and daily activity level, as well as enter their mood and rest if they wish to do so.

Web-based dashboards are provided to healthcare providers and caregivers. These dashboards give the healthcare provider the ability to display the individual’s drug ingestion patterns over time, Otsuka says.

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“Being able to track drug ingestion in patients with serious mental illness will provide compelling insights for patients and their healthcare provider teams,” says Kabir Nath, president and CEO, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business, Otsuka America Inc.

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