Coming soon: Prescription pills made with a 3D printer

3D printer
Credit: Creative Tools via Flickr

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first prescription drug manufactured through 3D printing, taking the marriage of technology and healthcare far beyond wearable fitness monitors and electronic health records.

Ohio-based Aprecia Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval on Spritam, a dissolvable tablet used to treat certain seizures caused by epilepsy in children and adults. The tablet is made in layers by a 3D printer and dissolves when taken with liquid, making it easier to swallow for people who have trouble taking pills.

“By combining 3D printing 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 statement. 

3D printing increasingly enables doctors to develop customized medical devices, such as prosthetics. 

Aprecia expects the 3D-manufactured pill to be available in early 2016. Wetherhold said his company plans to make additional 3D products. Indeed, as WebMD writes, this is just the beginning:

Experts say 3D printing of pills could usher in an era where drugs can be custom-ordered, based on specific patient needs, rather than a "one-product-fits-all" approach.

By making slight adjustments to the software before printing, hospitals could adjust the dose for individual patients. Without 3D printing, such personalized medicine would be extremely costly.

 

This story, "Coming soon: Prescription pills made with a 3D printer" was originally published by Fritterati.

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