US regulator the US Food and Drug Adminstation (FDA) has approved a trackable pill, Abilify MyCite aripiprazole tablets.

These tablets are used to treat schizophrenia and manic episodes, and have tiny chips inside them that send a signal to a smartphone when they have been swallowed.

[Read more: Smart pill approved by FDA]

Dr Mitchell Mathis, from the FDA, said: "Being able to track ingestion of medications prescribed for mental illness may be useful for some patients.

"The FDA supports the development and use of new technology in prescription drugs and is committed to working with companies to understand how technology might benefit patients and prescribers."

We take a look at the pros and cons of such forms of medications.


What is a smart pill?

It’s a normal-sized tablet but inside it contains a tiny, grain of sand-sized chip. This chip reacts when it comes into contact with stomach acid, so when the tablet has been swallowed, the chip will be activated.

This means it transmits to a smartphone or tablet indicating that the medication has been taken.

Will the chip stay inside me?

No. It passes out when you go to the toilet.

What can be the benefits of a smart tablet?

It can cut costs to the NHS which suffers losses of millions of pounds per year through non-adherence or non-compliance, which is what not taking your prescribed medicine is called.

One study by NHS England estimated that £300 million of NHS prescribed medicines are wasted per year.

In mental health, benefits for the clinical staff knowing you have taken your medicine include knowing the prescription is being followed correctly and being taken at all. This can be particularly important for conditions such as psychosis.

If it can be proved a medicine has been taken then it can reduce the need for injectable medications.

Who will have access to the data?

Concerns over privacy and the security over this data have been reported in The New York Times.

The newspaper says that the app will allow patients to block recipients anytime they change their mind.

“Although voluntary, the technology is still likely to prompt questions about privacy and whether patients might feel pressure to take medication in a form their doctors can monitor.”

It would seem at the moment the jury is still out on how people will respond to having trackable medication. 

[Read more: The pill that tells your doctor if you’ve taken it]