Since it seems like we’re 3D printing everything these days, it’s no surprise that one of the newest fields to jump on the bandwagon is the pharmaceutical industry. So far, a company called Aprecia Pharamceuticals has produced the only 3D printed drug to be approved by the FDA. This week, Aprecia is also becoming the first company to make their 3D printed drug, Spritam, available to the consumers in the United States.
There are certainly other pharmaceutical solutions coming out of 3D printers in labs, but they’re all still in the research phase. Spritam, on the other hand, has just become available to patients in the US who suffer from seizures. Aprecia uses a 3D process called powderbed inkjet printing that makes it possible to print ingestible tablets that dissolve immediately. Taking pills can be difficult and even dangerous for some patients, including the elderly. Spritam tablets deliver large amounts of the seizure medication in each dose, and their instantly dissoluble quality makes it easy for patients to take (when prescribed by a doctor).
Aprecia led a $35 million funding round to bring a series of alternative treatment solutions to patients suffering from conditions like epilepsy and myoclonic or tonic-clonic seizures. “Spritam is designed to transform what it is like to take epilepsy medication, and is the first in a line of products we are developing to provide patients and their caregivers with additional treatment options,” said Don Wetherhold, CEO of Apercia. If all the news is indeed connected behind Apercia’s laboratory doors, we may see many more 3D printed ingestible medications in the future.
3D printed medical solutions have been gaining lots of attention, but progress has been mainly in the category of hardware. And medication tablets coming off a 3D printer solves more than just the important component of instant dissolution — being able to print batches of FDA approved medications could mean that instead of having to adapt to pre-approved and mass produced dosage tablets, each patient could receive an individualized dosage or even a custom combination of drugs.