The Future Is Here: 3D Printed Drugs Are Coming
It may not be long before hospitals, and even patients are able to print out their own personalised medicine.
Quite a while back we covered a story suggesting that it may be possible to one day 3D print drugs. Well, it looks like the future has finally arrived, as the first 3D printed pill gains approval in the US.
It is all thanks to a US based pharmaceutical called Aprecia, who have successfully printed a new pill to help control epileptic seizures. Now other companies, including some here in Europe, are all lining up to patent all sorts of 3D printed wonders. Whilst patenting medicine is never a good thing, the technology behind this is very promising.
A NEW AGE OF MEDICINE?
3D printing allows medicine to be created in ways that current mainstream technology cannot hope to match. For example, this first pill has been printed to be much more porous in nature, dissolving much faster than regular pills when making contact with a liquid. Also, 3D printing allows layers of medication to be packed more tightly into a pill, with more precise dosing. This means medication can be made tailored to the suit the individual needs of a patient. The printers themselves are also much smaller than the machines found in a factory, making them much more mobile. It all comes together to point at a future where hospitals and possibly even ambulances will have the equipment to print precise medication as it is required.
“For the last 50 years, we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals,” says Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a professor of pharmaceuticals at the University of Central Lancashire. “For the first time, this process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient.”
Researchers at the School of Pharmacy of University College London have also been developing 3D printed drug technology, focusing on shapes, like printing pyramid and donut shaped pills. This isn’t just to make them look unusual, they have a real and meaningful use, with different shapes being found to dissolve at different rates and in different ways. It could help the printed medicine of the future become even more specific, and even become time released to unlock certain medicine at certain times.
The implications of this are staggering. Hopefully it won’t be long until we see this being used on a wider scale! Plus, who knows what this could mean for potential home printed psychedelics. It certainly won’t take long for someone to get their hands on the tech and hack it!