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“Please Wait a Few Moments While Your Pill Prints”

August 12, 2015
Since the late 1980’s, innovators have dreamed of living in a world where science could develop anything they want simply by pressing “print.” 3D printing has evolved to create an array of medical applications from prosthetics to printed bones and tissues, and now—3D printed pills.

Three days ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved Spritam, the first 3D-printed drug expected to hit the market by early 2016. It was developed by Ohio based Aprecia Pharmaceuticals using a printing platform from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Spritam will be prescribed to treat patients suffering from seizures. The 3D-printed structure of the drug allows up to 1000mg be delivered in a single dose which has the ability to dissolve with just a sip of water, making it easier for patients who have trouble swallowing large pills.

In the case of Spritam, 3D printing "binds the powders [in the drug] without compression," according to the prescription notes from the FDA. That's a method of giving the medication a structure that allows a large dose to be easily absorbed, something the company says was made possible because of the technology. – Business Insider

Spritam provides a glimpse into the future, showing the world what could be done with a regulatory process that complements innovative breakthroughs. Recent studies by many peer reviewed journals forecast the potential developments 3D printing can offer health care and personalized medicine.

The application of 3D printing in medicine can provide many benefits, including: the customization and personalization of medical products, drugs, and equipment; cost-effectiveness; increased productivity; the democratization of design and manufacturing; and enhanced collaboration. – CL Ventola,

Not only could this technology further personalize treatment options, but it can also be used to provide stable medicine to emergent nations.

If researchers find something in your body, genetic or otherwise, that would make you respond to a tweaked formulation of a drug instead of a version designed for the general population, they could print that exact thing for you on-demand. Other researchers have theorized that 3D printing could be a cheaper way to produce drugs for the developing world. – Business Insider

Approval for innovative drugs, like Spritam, reminds innovators that their discoveries can change lives. Spritam also serves as a reminder to legislators to take a look at the fierce regulations currently in place. Both need to co-exist to make a difference.