3D Printing Pills All At Once

To the uninitiated, it might seem like a gimmick to 3D print pharmaceuticals. After all, you take some kind of medicine, pour it in a mold, and you have a pill, right? But researchers and even some commercial companies are 3D printing drugs with unusual chemical or physical properties. For example, pills with braille identification on them or antibiotics with complex drug-release rates. The Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and the University College London can now 3D print pills without relying on a layer-by-layer approach. Instead, the machine produces the entire pill directly.

According to a recent report on the study, there are at least two things holding back printed pills. First, anything medical has to go through rigorous testing for approval in nearly any country. In addition, producing pills at typical 3D printing speeds is uneconomical. This new approach uses multiple beams of light to polymerize an entire tank of resin at once in as little as seven seconds.

With 3D printed drugs, it is possible to tailor release profiles for individual cases and make hybrid drugs such as a French drug that joins anticancer drugs with another drug to manage side effects. Is this a real thing for the future? Will doctors collect enough data to make it meaningful to tailor drugs to patients? Will regulators allow it? For hybrid medicine, is there really an advantage over just taking two pills? Only time will tell.

Sure, technology can help dispense pills. We know, too, that 3D printing can be useful for prostheses and medical devices. We aren’t so sure about pharmaceuticals, but in the meantime you can already order custom-printed vitamins.

7 thoughts on “3D Printing Pills All At Once

      1. Hmmmm, maybe won’t affect generic street drugs, but I could see it getting used to make high priced party pills for the trust fund brats. Having the potential to blend drugs and release rates it would change hit and miss combos of uppers and downers into a “smooth ride” as it were.

  1. Drug makers are generally in favor of anything that will increase the demand and sale price of their drugs. That’s all this really does.

    Imagine having NFTs embedded in fentanyl pills to fight illicit (cheap) drugs. Now you can verify the authenticity of the pills without needing to tamper with them for testing.

    Nobody is going to use this to make drugs cheaper or more effective. That’s antithetical to the bottom line.

  2. There is nothing really new about combination drugs, I have been taking combination drugs for diabetes (2 medications in one pill) made by big drug co’s (like AstraZenica) for years. They see a benefit, and end user gets to only pay one priscriptions charge and only swallows one, admittedly large, pill

    The truely customised drug down to an individuals needs I can’t see ever happening, the logistics and economics just don’t stack up

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