Pharma Interest in 3D Printing.The notion of tailor-made drugs, which are customised to an individual patient’s needs, has seen remarkable progress of late. This has culminated in the achievement of recent ground-breaking pharma innovation in the area of technology known as three dimensional (3D) printing.
The progression within the industry in the potential use of this technology is obvious, with the recent announcement of the first 3D printed drug in the world to gain approval from a regulator, in this case the FDA’s green light for Aprecia’s Spritam (levetiracetam). Although 3D printing has already been incorporated in other medical fields such as prosthetics, it is the first time technology of this kind has been adopted and approved for the production of drugs for human use.
How 3D printing works
Spritam has been developed by the Ohio-based pharma company Aprecia, and is a drug that controls epileptic seizures. It employs the company’s trademark ZipDose technology, a concept developed by Michael Cima and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT).
The technology uses 3D printing to create a more porous pill by layering the active and inactive ingredients, and using an aqueous fluid to stitch together multiple layers of powder. The structure of the pill means it is able to dissolve more quickly on contact with liquid, making it easier to swallow in higher doses, compared to conventional tablets. The 3D printing process allows layers of medication to be packed more tightly, in precise dosages.
The idea is that medicines can be customised to individuals in a way that can be tailored in terms of its dose, size, appearance and delivery, all of which can be designed to suit an individual and make the drug safer and more effective. This new and unique manufacturing technique also benefits patients, as building each dose individually can make each pill more porous and therefore more potent compared to traditional techniques. Pills printed through this process are thought to disintegrate in less than 10 seconds, which is unusually fast for high-dose drugs.Read more