Accessability Links

‘Big Brother’ is a) watching you, or b) helping you?

29 Nov 17 - 12:00AM Carl Marotta  | Test test blog

‘Big Brother’ is a) watching you, or b) helping you?


An article sparked my interest recently, the FDA approval of the first ever tablet to alert patients that they have ingested it. The tablet which contains a grain-size ingestible sensor transmits a message to a smart patch worn on the rib cage when it comes into contact with stomach acid. Otsuka in partnership with Proteus Digital Health developed the product called Abilify MyCite to help patients adhere to their medication. Patients who agree to take the tablet consent to allowing up to four people including their doctor to receive updates electronically revealing the date and time the pill was swallowed.


Pharma has attempted other methods of increasing adherence, investing in educational programmes to make patients more aware of the importance of taking their pills correctly, providing health counselling for people who are recorded not to take their medication accordingly and even offering gift cards / charitable donations to incentivise patients. Do the medical and financial benefits of medication adherence outweigh the surveillance of authorities?


Non-adherence is a huge issue resulting in deteriorated or lack of improved health and is a major economic burden including losses from wasted medicines as well as increased healthcare costs. NICE states ‘non-adherence should not be seen as the patient’s problem’. The NHS loses £300 million a year due to wasted medication (the true amount probably even higher) and the Pharma industry loses billions. Vast amounts of data is accessible as to why patients do not adhere to their medication, this is often unorganised and overwhelming for time-restricted healthcare professionals to digest and improve outcomes. Medical Affairs professionals can help by gathering insight from their clinical trials and assimilate it with data they have collected, reviewed and analysed from online and offline domains.


In my opinion, to get healthier we need to take medication as prescribed. Therefore, monitoring and encouraging patients is a step in the right direction. Recorded adherence is simply a use of modern technology in a transparent way to encourage people to take accountability for their own health. Think of all the data that is held about a patient’s health anyway, how is recording whether they take their tablets properly anymore invasive as long as the data is stored and used appropriately?


Digital technologies and real world data are having massive impacts on the Life Sciences industry. Many people monitor their heart rate, calories and exercise regularly these days to improve their fitness and health, why? Because setting objectives and measuring results improves success. To improve adherence, measurable metrics need to be set up and used so patients can monitor / track their performance. Taking medication correctly is something we need to commit to for improved results, just like regular exercise and a healthy diet. The time is here to monitor and take accountability, not over react to a ‘nanny state’ nudging us in the direction of better health.



Sophie Douglas MA (Oxon) DPhil (Oxon)


Executive Search – Medical Affairs


0207 220 6218