The pill is called Spritam and is designed for epilepsy sufferers as an emergency seizure control drug by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals. It is made with a special 3D printing technique named “ZipDose”, developed by the company, which makes it possible for high-dosage medicine to be packaged in tighter pills by printing individual layers. Up 1,000 milligrams of a certain substance could be fitted into an individual tablet
This is the first time in history that a national drug regulator has approved a pill produced through 3D printing, with Aprecia reportedly planning to develop other medicine using the technology now that it has received government approval.
The technology is already being used in other areas of medical care. Patients have already received 3D-printed skull patches and prosthetics, while technology is being tested to do the same for prostethic eyes, noses and years. One of the more ambitious experiments is carried out at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where a machine which prints skin directly onto burn victims is being tested.
But 3D printing pills has actually a great upside in the fact that individual dosages could be adjusted just by setting different values for the printer. If, let’s say, a patient would require a pill-based treatment but with a specific dosage in-between the ones of commercially available drugs, then personalized pills would need to be produced, which took time and made the treatment more expensive.
Now, the same results could be obtained by just fine-tuning the machine to instill the adequate dosage. This would definitely drive parts down – 3D printers aren’t exactly cheap at the moment, but modifying software settings works out way better than producing the pills in the traditional form.
“For the last 50 years we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals and for the first time this process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient,” explained Dr. Mohamed Albed Alhnan of the University of Central Lancashire.”
The pills obtained aren’t really all that different from their conventionally produced counterparts; they dissolve the same way as any orally-administered medicine, and apart from the higher dosage, there’s nothing that would make them stand apart. The 3D printing actually makes extremely high dosage pills smaller, by making them more concentrated – and easier to swallow, at the same time.
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