Millions of people around the world regularly use pills and capsules. Although we admit that pills make us feel better and treat us, we should not ignore the difficulties encountered when taking birth control pills.
According to data from PMLive, a recent survey showed that up to 50% of people have difficulty taking birth control pills. Some people find it difficult to swallow capsules due to their large size. Children may avoid pills because of unpleasant taste. In the case of the elderly, the situation is even worse. Their usual medication routine includes some pills. For these reasons, it is very important to solve problems related to taking medication.
Traditional drug manufacturing methods use standard drug formulations that are more suitable for large-scale manufacturing. But they cannot provide answers to all the challenges that customers face. The more powerful technology to promote “personalization” is the pharmaceutical industry takes time.
Enter 3D printing and “personalized medicine”. Scientists and pharmaceutical researchers believe that 3D printing may be the answer to most of the questions related to drug intake.
The main idea behind 3D printing drugs is to design and develop drugs that suit individual needs. In this way, we can easily adjust the size, appearance, shape and delivery rate of various drugs.
Let us first look at the different 3D printing technologies used for medicines, and then the latest trends in 3D printing medicines worldwide.
The combination of fused deposition modeling (FDM) and hot melt extrusion (HME)-the production of drug-loaded filaments-represents a promising technology for 3D printing drugs. The main challenge is that the temperature required during the printing process may reduce the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).
A researcher discussed the feasibility of FDM for 3D printing tablets. Specifically, he loaded domperidone into hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) filaments, and then used FDM for 3D printing to produce hollow tablets. Another researcher proved that prednisolone can be filled with PVA filaments and 3D printed.
In inkjet printing, different combinations of active ingredients and excipients (inks) are sprayed through nozzles to deposit the three-dimensional structure of the solid dosage form. This layer-by-layer deposition of pharmaceutical ingredients produces three-dimensional tablets.
In a specific study, maltodextrin and maltitol were mixed with a drug carrier called captopril. Then use water-based ink to bind the powder.
Stereolithography (SLA) is another promising technology for the manufacture of drug-loaded tablets. Generally, SLA uses a laser beam to photopolymerize monomers.
Using SLA, a team from University College London combined drug monomers with photoinitiators to produce resin-based pills.
Selective laser sintering (SLS) has been used to produce doses with accelerated drug release. This is achieved by mixing the active ingredient with certain copolymers and melting the resulting powder with a laser.
In 2015, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals developed Ziddose, a patented technology for 3D printing drugs that can achieve high-dose drugs in a rapidly disintegrating form. Using this technology, they subsequently produced Spritam, which treats epilepsy. This is the world’s first 3D printed drug approved by the FDA.
“By combining 3D printing technology with highly prescribed epilepsy treatments, we designed Spritam to meet the needs of patients with current medical treatment experience,” Aprecia CEO Don Wetherhold said in an interview with Time.
The active ingredient of the drug is in powder form. It is deposited in layers and connected with a liquid adhesive to ensure perfect aggregation. This technology provides an orodispersible tablet that dissolves in just a few seconds.
Recommended reading《What are the advantages of 3D printers?》