FDA Approves 1st Drug Produced By 3D Printing

For years, scientists have been searching for a way to simplify the way drugs are made, making everything computerised, with minimal human interaction as possible. Previously I have reported on a new technology called molecular printing, click HERE to read it first.

Now for the first time, the FDA has approved the first prescription drug made via the new and similar technique: 3D printing.

Aprecia Pharmaceuticals released a statement last Monday, saying that the FDA has approved its drug: Spritam - an epilepsy drug for adults and children who suffer from certain types of seizures caused by epilepsy. The approved drug is manufactured in a layered process via 3D Printing and dissolves when taken with liquid.

The pharmaceutical company, based in Ohio, USA, also shows that the new printing system can package potent dug doses of up to 1000mg into individual tablets. They also aim to launch the 3D printed drug in the first couple of months of 2016.

Previously, the FDA has approved medical devices - including prosthetics - made with 3D printing. But Spritam is the very first prescription tablet that has been approved which uses this new process.

In a statement released by Aprecia (a privately owned company), they hope they will be able to develop other medications using their 3D platform in the near future, especially neurological drugs.

What's different about 3D printing that's different from the methods already used today?

A tablet can be seen as a miniature drug delivery system, developed for the human body. It is carefully designed to deliver a drug to its target area, where it can be most effective. To give an example; a pill can be coated with a coating and have a particular structure which aims to protect the tablet from our harsh stomach acid and deliver the drug to small intestine; its target site. This is the essential reason why you shouldn't split tablets in half or crush them without your pharmacists or doctors advice. 

Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, focuses entirely on 3D printing technology and producing 3D printed medications - they don't produce pills from a normal factory - the advantage of this will be to customize the doses - via their ZipDose® technologyThe aim of this new technology is to be able to produce a pill which can dissolve very quickly, and at the same time carry high doses of medication, such as 1000mg. 

References: Story and quotes adapted from the Guardian and Aprecia Pharmaceuticals.