3-D printing technology is becoming commonplace in manufacturing, but it may be revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry. With the ability to create customized, patient-specific medications, 3-D printed pharmaceuticals are changing the way drugs are manufactured and distributed. For manufacturers, 3-D printing offers a new way to create and distribute medications, with the potential to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes.
Supplement gummy stacks
One example is the 7-layer supplement stack being produced by Nourished. These are vitamins rather than pharmaceuticals or drugs proper, but the way they are being produced is a perfect example of the potential application of 3-D printing †o pharmaceuticals — without the specific issues we’ll be discussing further below
Nourished discovered from marketing research that their customer base was taking 5-8 separate supplements each day. While they know that actual vitamin deficiencies in the United States are usually limited to Vitamin D and iron, they found that their customers had particular vitamins they like dot take, without any medical advice.
With combinatorix on their side, they came up with seven substances they could load into 3-D printers to extrude vitamin-laced gummies and combined them into 35 possible permutations. A quick online quiz lets visitors to their website get a recommendation from their algorithm. The screenshot at the top of this post shows the results visitors see, with a recommended ” personalized Nourished stack.”
A subscription runs about $70 a month for 28 stacks.
The stacks are sugar-free, allergen-free, vegan, plastic-free, and flavored to taste with a choice of fruit flavors in sour or sweet versions. Nourished prints them out and wraps them in separate packets with the customer’s name, packs them up in boxes of 28, and ships them out every four weeks to their lucky customers.
But what about pharmaceuticals?
Nourished supplement stacks might just as well be called supplement snacks. They are nutritional supplements, so the FDA doesn’t regulate them; they are considered safe until proven otherwise. As long as they are not actually contaminating their gummies with dangerous substances, they simply don’t have anything to prove.
It’s different for drugs.
So far, there is only one drug that is actually produced for the market place with 3-D printing: Aprecia Pharmaceuticals’ Spritam (levetiracetam), an anti-epileptic drug approved by the FDA in 2015 and produced through 3-D printing since 2020.
Several other companies are working on their own possibilities for the near future. In most cases, the drugs they are working with are substances that require a high degree of personalization for the correct dose.
The benefits of using 3D printing for pharmaceuticals could include faster production, lower costs, and greater customization. At the same time, some challenges associated with 3D printed pharmaceuticals include regulation and quality control.
3-D printing is not as precise as other methods; the results can be inconsistent, and that can be dangerous when it comes to drugs. Alvaro Goyanes, director of development at FabRX told Medical Futurist that “regulators will need to adapt to and accept printing as a method of manufacture.” But will they? Precision might be important enough for drug manufacturing that real improvements in the technology will be necessary, rather than a change of mindset.
The substances available for 3-D printing are limited, too. This is an area where pharmacy companies may be able to make significant progress in the next few years.
It’s an interesting possibility. In the meantime, when you need service and support for your Rexroth motion control systems, call us first. We are specialists, with decades of experience and a long history of exceptional performance and service.