Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla explains new technology, a pill with a chip that tracks digestion.
A short clip of a man speaking at the World Economic Forum is circulating widely on social media (WEF). According to users, it is Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla who is explaining Pfizer's new technology to the Davos crowd: These are "ingestible pills," according to Bourla, which are pills with a tiny chip that sends a wireless signal to relevant authorities when the pharmaceutical is digested, linking it to compliance.
The Misbar team investigated the claim and found it to be misleading. According to credible news sources, the video is from the 2018 World Economic Forum.
Discussion Panel at the WEF in 2018
The video is a clip from a WEF panel on “Transforming Health in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” In the video, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla answers a question about improving patient engagement. Even with the best drugs, "there's no guarantee the patient will take it." Bourla replied that the FDA approved a pill with a digital sensor to track ingestion.
FDA Approves Pill with Digital Chip
Bourla appears to be referring to Abilify MyCite, an aripiprazole tablet with an Ingestible Event Marker (IEM) sensor inside that detects when a pill has been ingested. Aripiprazole is a medication used to treat schizophrenia that works in the brain. It's also referred to as a second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) or an atypical antipsychotic. Aripiprazole restores dopamine and serotonin balance to improve cognition, mood, and behavior.
The FDA approved the use of this drug a few months before the 2018 World Economic Forum, in November 2017, as shown in the screenshot below.
The system, according to the FDA, works by sending a message from the pill's sensor to a wearable patch. The patch sends the data to a mobile application, which allows patients to track their medication intake on their smartphones. Patients can also grant access to their caregivers and physicians via a web-based portal.
Dr. Mitchell Mathis, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research's Division of Psychiatry Products, stated that "being able to track ingestion of medications prescribed for mental illness may be useful for some patients." The FDA is committed to working with companies to understand how technology can benefit patients and prescribers."
Misbar finds the claim misleading. The video was taken from a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in 2018 in response to a question. It is not new, and so far the medication with a sensor appears to be aimed at the mentally ill in order to monitor and ensure they take their medication. It is worth noting that the WEF is an annual conference that will be held this year from May 22nd to May 26th in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.