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FDA approves drug created through 3D printing

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first prescription drug made through 3D printing – an epilepsy drug called Spritam.
The technique could potentially be used to develop other drugs. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, the company behind 3D-printed Spritam, already has plans to create other medications using the 3D printing method. Diabetes drugs like metformin may one day be produced this way.
The potential benefits of 3D printing for people with diabetes have been examined before: back in May, researchers from the University of Twente found that 3D-printed islet cells can be capable of producing insulin and properly responding to glucose.
3D printing offers several benefits over traditional methods of drug production. For one, it makes it possible to package much higher dosages into individual tablets – potentially as much as 1,000mg per tablet – and devices are being developed that would make such dosages easier to consume.
3D printing may provide a way to tailor medication to individual patients. By tweaking the software slightly, the dosage of a particular drug could be altered based on the needs of the user.
“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,” said Dr. Mohamed Albed Alhna, lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire.
The first 3D printer drug has only just been approved in the US, so it will likely be a while before such drugs are seen in Europe and the UK. It may be longer still before the technique is tested on diabetes drugs. That said, it is a promising breakthrough, and one with the potential to change the way medication is delivered.
Image source: AP

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