Proteus Digital Health, a healthcare unicorn focused on improving medication adherence among the most medically-needy, developed the first digital medicine, combining an ingestion event marker (IEM) with a ‘smart’ health-tracking system, to record the timing, efficacy and safety of the patient-drug interaction. Patients could track their medication use and health status from their smartphones, and could receive reminders and alerts. Patients controlled access to their data, including doctors for monitoring health and tracking progress, and family and friends for support. Data from the Proteus system had the potential for broader applications, such as in assessing drug safety or personalizing medicine. In 2019, Proteus was acquired by Japanese pharmaceutical firm, Otsuka, a market leader in mental illness drugs. The two companies worked on the launch of the first digitized medicine, combining Otsuka’s best-selling mental illness drug with the Proteus system to create a patient-enabled, trackable treatment system, Abilify MyCite. The prospective launch of Abilify MyCite brought the often-discussed ‘future’ of medicine into the immediate present. One of the top-three UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ‘Good Health and Well-Being’, underscored the urgency to improve patient outcomes among the most medically-needy, to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. This included not only persons with mental health issues, but those with chronic or potentially fatal illnesses such as tuberculosis, HIV, cancer, and diabetes, among other illnesses, that needed regular surveillance and medication. Proteus could bring this goal within reach. The benefit to the patient seemed clear, but was the complex healthcare industry ready to welcome such an innovation?

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Puntoni, S, & Kleinsmith, N. (2022). Proteus Digital Health: Healthcare for Everyone, Everywhere. Retrieved from

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