The First FDA-Approved 3D Printed Drugs Points Towards A Pharmaceutical Revolution


Revolutionizing industries left, right, and center, there seems to be an application for 3D printing in almost every sector. The world has already seen how 3D printers may change the face of architectural, automotive, and art industries, but it’s time to add a new business to the growing list: pharmaceuticals.

SPRITAM levetiracetam, a drug designed to aid with the management of epileptic seizures, became the only prescription drug made by a 3D printer to be officially approved by the FDA, reports Singularity Hub. While other pills have been printed using 3D technologies, the milestone of an FDA-approval had yet to be reached, and now that it has, the pharmaceutical industry may never be the same.

Created by Aprecia, an Ohio-based pharmaceutical company, SPIRITAM is actually more effective than other drugs that perform the same function, thanks to its method of creation. Built using ZipDose, a print-able “powder liquid” that is able to piece together a network of powdered medication, a single SPIRITAM is essentially “water-soluble matrix” of seizure-fighting ingredients that is able to take effect as soon as it comes in contact with water. Thanks to this 3D printed porous structure, SPIRITAM is effectively more fast-acting, and thus more beneficial to patients.

But SPRITAM is more than an innovation for those who suffer from seizures, the manner in which the pill is built demonstrates how a 3D printer can build an incredibly complex structure for medicinal purposes. If the technology is nurtured by the pharmaceutical industry, in the future we may have 3D printed drugs that are designed for individual patients, as doctors and engineers can build a pill that has exactly the right dose for a specific person.

Professor Lee Cronin already believes that 3D printed drugs are the future of pharmaceuticals, and has devoted his efforts into creating a “chemputer,” a 3D pharmaceutical printer anyone can use. Based at the University of Glasgow, Cronin’s multipurpose 3D printer aims to allow anyone to download the schematics for a specific drug, then print them out in the comfort of home.

If Cronin’s chemputer, or a similar idea, becomes the norm in the realm of pharmaceuticals, the possibilities become endless. Able to print out pills just about anywhere, the accessibility of medicinal drugs will reach new heights, meaning people can more easily receive the medical treatment they need.

Featured image courtesy of: mattza

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