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The promise and pitfalls of medical technology

Innovative medical technology is trying to solve the problem of getting people to take their medicine, but its cost and its unfamiliarity has blocked widespread use, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The first digital therapy to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Abilify MyCite, isn't on the market because of providers' and insurers' reservations about the product.

  • Abilify is an old drug used to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The new product is the same pill but with an electronic tracking component added, which transmits a signal when it comes into contact with stomach acid.
  • Eventually, doctors can view the data collected to monitor whether a patient is taking his or her medicine — serious information for schizophrenia patients.
  • Abilify MyCite costs $1,650 a month.

The big picture: The collision of drugs and medical devices with Silicon Valley has resulted in apps to help treat numerous health care conditions, and there are studies underway for more digital pills to treat cancer and other diseases.

  • But the cost-effectiveness of these new technologies hasn't yet been proven, and until if and when it is, that's a huge barrier to uptake.
  • "I think that these technologies have a lot of potential benefits, but it's going to be a question of evidence — that they can demonstrate value to patients and payers," former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Post.

Go deeper: A blind spot for medical AI