First 3D Printed Drug Ushers in Era of Downloadable Medicine
Adam Rifkin stashed this in 3D Printers
This is an important milestone in that it may be the future of delivering proper dosage to people.
3D-printed widgets are taking the medical world by storm. Polymer-based skull implants? Check. Doughnut-shaped Tylenol pills? Check. Totally rad-looking prosthetic arms with a $150 price tag? Check again.
These, and plenty other medical novelties, clearly illustrate the potential of 3D printing to radically change the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. With its extreme versatility and inherent ability to customize products, many experts believe that 3D printing will finally blow the field of affordable personalized medicine wide open. Yet so far it’s been mostly hope — and plenty of hype — with little sign that the radical technology might actually become a medical mainstay.
Last week, the FDA approved the first 3D-printed prescription drug, essentially validating the technology as a new heavyweight player in big pharma. “This may be the first truly mass manufactured product made by 3D printing,” said Dr. Michael Cima, a professor at MIT who helped invent the pill-printing technology back in 1997, in an email to Singularity Hub. “It’s revolutionary.”
The printed pill, SPRITAM levetiracetam, is a drug that fights many kinds of epileptic seizures. The brainchild of a little-known Ohio-based company Aprecia, SPRITAM is essentially an old drug ingredient packaged into a brand new, more effective delivery system. Unlike current formulations of the same drug, SPRITAM immediately dissolves upon contact with water and bursts into effect — a property obviously beneficial when trying to curtail sudden-onset seizure episodes.
The advantage here is that we'll be able to deliver exactally the right dose to people. A 160 pound man and a 200 pound man ideally should get different doses of medicine, and now the pharmacy can print up the exact right dosage of drug for you instead of giving everyone the same mass-produced pill.