The emerging 3D-printing industry has dabbled in creating a myriad of objects, from simple origami-like experiments to full-blown, drivable cars. Now, medication can be added to the list.
In a worldwide first, the US Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for a 3D-printed pill to be produced. While other 3D printed medical devices have been developed, like prosthetics, this is the only 3d-printed consumable pill out there.
The new drug, dubbed Spritam, was developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to control seizures brought on by epilepsy. This is the first in a line of printed drugs the company hopes to develop.
A separate technology developed by the firm, known as ZipDose, makes these higher dosage meds easier to get down. They can pack a lot more meds per pill, as the printing process layers the medication to be packed more tightly.
The most impactful potential benefit to this new tech is the potential to create bespoke drugs based on the specific needs of patients. This allows for more specific treatment, rather than giving a general, over the counter solution.
“For the last 50 years we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals and for the first time this process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient,” said Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire.
This means by simply tweaking the software, a perfect dosage of medication can be administered on a per patient basis. Previously, such personalized medicine would have been extremely expensive to produce.
Spritam will launch in the first quarter of 2016, according to Aprecia.