Adherence is critical to achieve the benefits of antiretroviral therapy. A smart-pill bottle service that transmits real-time adherence data via cellular networks to a central service and prompts nonadherent patients with phone or text messages may improve adherence.
Adults with HIV taking a tenofovir-containing regimen with suboptimal adherence were randomized to adherence counseling ± a smart-pill bottle service for 12 weeks. Tenofovir diphosphate (TFV-DP) levels by dried blood spot, HIV RNA levels, CD4 cell counts, and self-reported adherence were collected.
Sixty-three participants (22% women; 48% black, 25% Latino) were randomized: 30 to the smart-pill bottle (2 of whom were lost to follow-up before the baseline visit), and 33 to control arms. At baseline, 49% of participants had HIV RNA ≤20 copies/mL and 61% reported 100% adherence with ART over 4 days. From baseline to week 12, median TFV-DP levels were +252 and −41 fmol/punch in the bottle and control arms, respectively (P = 0.10). Exploratory exclusion of 3 participants with known or suspected drug–drug interactions found median TFV-DP levels of +278 and −38 fmol/punch, respectively (P = 0.04). There were no differences in study discontinuations, HIV RNA suppression, CD4 cell counts, or self-reported adherence at week 12.
In a diverse group of participants with suboptimal adherence to ART, the smart-pill bottle service was associated with higher TFV-DP levels.