Could 3D Printers Manufacture the Drugs of the Future?

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You can now use 3D printing to create items using a wide range of filaments, and not just plastics. Metals, edibles, bio and construction materials are just some of the examples that are being developed for 3D printing.

As those reading the ILF Newsletter regularly will know, we are pretty excited about the potential of 3D printing, and have already shared the odd article on it. The possibilities get more and more amazing, by now reaching deep into the field of medicine. Read here how it is anticipated that we will not only be able to print body parts such as artificial legs, no, we might even be able to print human organs! By the way, the US’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) has set up a website where they share latest developments in medical-related 3D printing technologies and applications.

You can read our favourite insights (excerpts from the article) below or click through to the full article from McKinsey in the link at the bottom.

You may also want to check out a more recent overview of the potential and applications of 3D printing here.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Spritam, an epilepsy medication made using 3D printers.

This makes Spritam the first 3D printed product approved by the FDA for use inside the human body.

If you advance the technology a decade or more, having the medication you need printed at home is not that implausible. While big-pharma may have something to say about it, new business opportunities will be created that will be able to monetize the technology.

In conjunction with stem cell research, printing human organs is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Currently different body parts have been printed, and the days of long transplant waiting lists will eventually become a thing of the past.

It’s important to remember that a lot more goes into the creation of a medication or other medical break-through than just being able to “print” drugs. Other costs include intensive research and development and then exhaustive testing.

So there’s no reason to believe 3D printing alone will allow smaller drug firms to more effectively compete with huge pharmaceutical firms. But the break through will certainly create more opportunities in the medical industry for companies of all sizes.

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