The latest developments in 3-D printing technology can allow patients to make their own prescription drugs at home. 3D printing could eventually pave the way for individualized dosages, or the creation of a customized combination of drugs. Such pills may vary in shape, size, and color according to the patient’s needs, which reportedly can change their effect.
The latest innovations were presented at the Dubai Health Forum on January 9-10 by FabRx, a UK-based biotech company focused on developing 3-D printing technology for making pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
“Our idea is not to scale up the process, but to bring this into hospitals, clinics and at home,” said the company’s director of development Alvaro Goyanes.
“Eventually, we see prescriptions being sent to people’s homes so they can print their own medication. Patients will be able to print the right dose, or a combination of drugs, for themselves,” he said.
Pharmacists will need to develop the correct dosage for each filament used to print off each batch of pills. The filament is the raw material used by printers to create the final product. Filaments will be sold to hospitals to print their own drugs using in-house printers.
Doctors from the Dubai Health Authority are confident they can soon take the technology into people’s homes to treat chronic medical conditions. According to them, 3D printed pills will reduce the cost of the most expensive drugs, including those used in cancer treatment. The method should also reduce the incidence of counterfeit medication, because the filament will be harder to replicate, developers claim.
Although 3-D printed medication has been tested on animals, it has yet to be used in human trials. It would need to be approved by regulators before use, but developers are confident this could be reached within two years.
The first 3D printed drug managed to receive the necessary US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval in March 2016. 3D-printed Spritam (levetiracetam) tablets produced by Pennsylvania-based Aprecia Pharmaceuticals are used to treat epilepsy and currently available in the USA. The pills are reported to have almost instantaneous dissoluble quality.
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