With last week’s announcement that the FDA has approved the first 3D-printed drug in the United States, a whole industry has been opened up to the radical possibilities made available through new technology.
The approved drug is called Spritam and is used in treating seizures for epilepsy patients. Among the advantages gained from manufacturing via the 3D printing process is an improved time-release period, as well as a beneficial layering of drug components. It is even easier for the patient to swallow, too.
One of the larger implications this development holds for the future is very similar to what has happened with prototyping in manufacturing. For example, instead of pills being manufactured and shipped to doctors and hospitals, now pills could potentially be created on site. Furthermore, doses and active ingredients could be customized depending on a patient’s complete medical profile.
While it isn’t likely that we will all be printing our own medication next week, it will be interesting to see what happens between the regulators, the profit seekers, the health care workers, and the end users. With the potential to improve the drug industry also comes the risk of introducing illegally made and/or mislabeled drugs into the general marketplace.
What is clear, however, is that 3D printing continues to yield important advancements. Where some once smirked at its practical applications, now there can be no doubt about the lifesaving and time-saving rewards that have been yielded by this still very new technology.
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