Apple Promised A Lot With Their Medications Functionality In iOS 16 And watchOS 9…. But They Didn’t Deliver It Outside The US

During the WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) keynote in June. Apple announced that watchOS 9 and iOS 16 would have new functionality to track your medications called Medications. This is how Apple described it during the keynote:

So the Medications app will check for drug interactions via a database lookup, as well as allow you scan your prescription bottle to allow you to accurately enter your medications into the Medications app. It sounds great and when iOS 16 was released on Monday, I decided to try it out. That’s when I discovered that what Apple promised in the keynote wasn’t what Apple delivered to me in the Great White North known as Canada.

I take a medication called Cequa which is the trade name for Cyclosporine which is an anti-inflammatory eye drop to treat the side effects of wearing the special contact lenses that I use to make up for the fact that I have an eye disease called Keratoconus which without said special contact lenses makes it difficult for me to see. I wanted to set up an entry for this drug where I would be reminded about taking this medication when I got up in the morning, and before going to bed. But when adding this drug, there was no ability to search for this drug. In fact the search function that Apple showed in the keynote was completely absent.

That’s #fail number one.

Second, there was no ability to scan the prescription label using your camera as Apple demonstrated in the video above.

That’s #fail number two.

Finally since my wife has a pharmacology and toxicology degree which gives her the ability to speak to drug to drug interactions, she gave me the name of a pair of drugs guaranteed to interact with each other. The drugs in question were Zoloft and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors. No prompts like the ones that were illustrated in the keynote video appeared when I entered them into the medications app.

#Fail number three. That’s three strikes and Apple is out to borrow a baseball analogy.

This bugged me so much that I went hunting for a reason why this functionality was missing. I found my answer in the press release of iOS 16:

In the US, users can simply point their iPhone camera at a label to add a medication, read about the medications they’re taking, and receive an alert if there are potential critical interactions with their medications.

Only US users get this feature is how I read that statement. I have to assume that this was done for regulatory reasons. Similar to when the ECG functionality was launched in the Apple Watch Series 4 which took a long time before Health Canada signed off on it and it was available here. Not to mention other places on the planet. But before you think that this is a “why doesn’t Canada get nice things” rant by The IT Nerd, it isn’t. I pinged an associate in the UK and he doesn’t have this functionality either. And he’s not happy about that either. The flip side of that is that it implies that Apple could bring this to other countries assuming they hop through the regulatory hoops to do so.

Apple with this functionality has really has come up with something that could legitimately save lives. But apparently this is only available to US users. Thus I am hoping that Apple is working towards rolling this in other countries. Though it would be nice if Apple speaks to that. But I suspect that they won’t as that’s not who Apple is.

Over to you Apple.

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