The idea of 3D-printed drugs has been floating around for a few years now, but this week it became more than just an idea. After months of testing, the US Food and Drug Administration has given its seal of approval to a new drug called Spritam (levetiracetam) — a rapid-dissolving 3D-printed tablet designed for the treatment of epileptic seizures.
The groundbreaking new drug, developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Company, makes use of the company’s new ZipDose technology — a proprietary technique that utilizes additive manufacturing techniques (yes, that’s 3D printing) to produce a porous tablet that disintegrates quickly with just a sip of water. Quick-dissolve tablets are nothing new at this point, but Aprecia’s ZipDose tablets take things to a whole new level. Rather than disintegrating in minutes like currently-available drugs, Spritam dissolves in a matter of seconds — allowing it to enter the bloodstream that much faster. Just check out the video; they actually had to slow it down so you can see the process clearly.
“By combining 3DP technology with a highly-prescribed epilepsy treatment, Spritam is designed to fill a need for patients who struggle with their current medication experience,” Aprecia CEO Don Wetherhold said in a release. “This is the first in a line of central nervous system products Aprecia plans to introduce as part of our commitment to transform the way patients experience taking medication.”
The awesome thing about this is that, thanks to this innovative 3D printing technique, Aprecia can actually make tablets with specific dosages that are tailored to each individual patient. ZipDose tablets can be custom-made to deliver anywhere from 10 to 1,000 milligrams of a given drug in a single dose — making them ideal for children and adults who find it difficult to swallow large pills. It basically melts in your mouth.
Spritam isn’t ready for primetime quite yet, but Aprecia — the first (and only) pharmaceutical company to produce 3D-printed medicine on a commercial scale –says that the drug is expected to become available sometime in the first quarter of 2016.