World’s first 3D-printed pill gets FDA approval

5 Aug 2015

A Spritam 3D-printed pill. Image via Aprecia Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical industry could be on the cusp of a manufacturing revolution with the news that the world’s first 3D-printed pill has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The 3D-printed pill called Spritam is part of a new line of seizure-preventing drugs developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals for people suffering from epilepsy.

The first 3D-printed pills are expected to begin being released commercially by Q1 2016.

While the drug itself could be manufactured using traditional methods, the company said that the 3D-printing method will not only allow for more doses of the pill to be tightly packed, but will allow for as much as 1,000mg to be packed into one tablet.

Arguably the biggest advantage for such a system would be the breaking of the relationship that meant medication had to be shipped to hospitals or doctors’ offices.

If drugs can be produced with 3d printing, companies like Aprecia Pharmaceuticals would be able to licence its medicine to hospitals to produce onsite, lowering the company’s manufacturing costs significantly.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire, said: “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.”

Likewise, rather than having to change the number of pills a patient would have to take depending on the severity of their condition, an individual pill could be 3D-printed to suit their needs.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic