3D Printing Your Meds: How it works, Side Effects, and the Future of Medical Personalization

Rewind to 1986 when 3D printing was first invented. This sparked the beginning of a revolution. Today there are countless things that 3D printing can create, and it feels like there is something new we’re 3D printing every day.

Earlier this month, the FDA approved the first 3D printed drug, Spritam. Spritam is a drug to treat seizures related to epilepsy. This is a turning point for many other medications to be created through 3D printing.

3D printed Spritam was created by MIT researchers. It quickly dissolves when in contact with liquid. It’s great for kids and adults who have a difficult time swallowing large pills and it’s easy to carry for traveling or taking on the go with its solid form. Another interesting aspect of 3D printed Spritam is that it is available in larger dosages — up to 1000 mg.

However, Spritam isn’t on the market just yet. It won’t be available until the first quarter of 2016. It has the same side effects the original non-3D printed medication — which can include: sleepiness, weakness, dizziness and infection, nasal congestion, irritability and decreased appetite. But again, that isn’t because the the 3D printing methodology. The 3D printed version of this drug does not show any additional side effects thus far. But what is most interesting is the pandora’s box 3D printing medicine opens up.

The approval by the FDA opens many doors for the 3D printing and medical industry. Medicine is well on its way to producing more personalized and specialized medicine rather than the current “one-size-fits-all” manufacturing. It it possible for a person to go to the pharmacy to pick up the raw materials and 3D print the pills at home, or the pharmacy may have 3D printed medicine at hand.

What is concerning about this future however, is the abuse that could arise. Although there have been cases of black market 3D printed drug production already, this will likely get worse. It’s important that regulations keep up with the quickly evolving 3D printing space.

What do you think? Will all of our medications be made via 3D printing soon enough? Or do you think the high risk of abuse and this black market will hold this new way of manufacturing back?