Digital aripiprazole as a human technology

(May 2021)

Cosgrove, L., Morrill, Z. & Karter J. Economy and Society, Vol 50, 2021 – Issue 3, p359

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first ever ‘digital’ drug, an antipsychotic (aripiprazole) embedded with a sensor (Abilify MyCite) that tracks data about drug ingestion as well as activity level and mood patterns. In this paper, we identify the financial and sociopolitical drivers that have facilitated the development and regulatory approval of a digital drug marketed for people with psychotic disorders. We explore the novel ways that such devices blur the distinctions between medication, machine and mind. The risks of digital aripiprazole obscuring and exacerbating the effects of social inequity are discussed. However, we also consider the possibility that this digital psychotropic drug may allow for new forms of personhood, performances of subjectivity, and resistance to emerge. This paper addresses both the conditions that enabled the development of digital aripiprazole as well as the possibilities and limitations it may bring to health providers and service-users. Read more