The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August gave the go-ahead for a 3D printed pill. The drug, Spritam (levetiracetam), a version of a widely used drug for controlling seizures, is made by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals of Blue Ash, Ohio. Although the regulator has previously authorized 3D printed medical devices, this is the first 3D-printed prescription drug to gain approval. The company uses ZipDose technology, which was developed using a 3D platform that originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Printing layer by layer allows the components to be packaged more tightly, producing high-dose pills containing up to 1 gram of drug in an individual tablet. The pills are highly porous, enabling them to dissolve instantly when taken by patients. The overall aim is to make pill-taking easier for patients, including those who have difficulties swallowing large tablets. 3D printing also opens up the possibility of manufacturing bespoke drugs based on different patients' needs. Aprecia plans to launch Spritam early in 2016.
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First 3D-printed pill. Nat Biotechnol 33, 1014 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt1015-1014a
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