It’s hard to believe that 3D printing has been around for over 40 years now and hit the mainstream market almost two decades ago.
In the last ten years, we’ve seen the technology behind 3D printing not only get more affordable but also more reliable, with 3D printing of pharmaceutical products, including drugs becoming extremely popular.
However, how are pharmaceutical companies ensuring the quality and safety of 3D-printed pharmaceutical products such as drugs? Let’s check out the process of 3D printing drugs and medication in more detail.
We Have Come A Long Way from Traditional Pills and Capsules
When you think of how most pills are made, it makes sense. First, you mix up a large batch of ingredients, and that mixture is pressed out into the correct, uniform shape. It’s a similar process for a liquid solution that is encapsulated in a gel coating.
If you want to make 10 million of the same pill at the exact same dosage, then that’s great. However, what if someone only wanted to take a ¼ of the dose, or someone else wanted the same pill but was allergic to one of the ingredients? Could you make them a box of tablets or capsules? Not likely.
That’s where 3D printing or additive manufacturing steps in and says, ‘Yes, we can!’
3D Printing Offers Personalized Medicine On-Demand
The most exciting aspect of 3D printing of pharmaceuticals is the ability to control the physical arrangement of both inactive and active ingredients within the pills themselves. By doing this, you can control the density, strength, shape, and size of the pills and also alter release and absorption rates.
You can learn more about the benefits of Individualized Medication and the role 3D printing plays in our article Individualized and Customized Medicine’s Important Role in the Future of Healthcare.
How Do You Regulate 3D Printed Pharmaceuticals?
In the US, all 3D-printed pharmaceutical products, such as pills and capsules, are 100% regulated by the FDA. In addition, drugs and Pharmaceuticals are regulated by the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).
Recently, Laxxon Medical announced that they were partnering with Hovione for the 3D printing of pharmaceuticals that comply with the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), a process set up by the FDA to ensure medication is manufactured safely by all pharmaceutical companies.
One day in the future, we could possibly walk into our doctor’s office or hospital and have our individualized medication 3D printed right there on the spot. However, that’s still a long way in the future.
Another method for both the tracking and regulating of 3D-printed pharmaceuticals is the use of QR codes directly printed onto the tablets themselves. Not only will this allow customers to quickly look up the ingredients, dosage instructions, and possible side effects, but it will also allow regulators to globally track pharmaceutical products and identify counterfeit medication.
Check out our full article on the Advantages of QR Codes in the Pharmaceutical Industry to learn more about how QR codes can assist with regulating 3D-printed pharmaceutical products.
While the regulations governing 3D-printed pharmaceutical products are only in their infancy, government agencies such as the FDA are already putting in place measures to ensure the safety of 3D-printed pharmaceuticals moving forward.
Laxxon Medical is dedicated to engineering patented 3D pharmaceutical solutions which optimize products and benefit patients. Our goal is to establish SPID®-Technology as a manufacturing process that has the individual and the pharmaceutical partner in mind.