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3D printing of medicine may disrupt traditional pharmaceutical value chain: Rajesh Pednekar

Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai
Friday, November 4, 2016, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

With the advent of 3D printing in medicine, the traditional pharmaceutical value chain may undergo significant change as pharma industry can start with low-volume production and personalised medicine and produce a wide range of APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) on demand for use in medicine R&D, said Rajesh Pednekar, international expert, pharmaceutical supply chain.

The 3D printing process allows layers of medication to be packaged more tightly in precise dosages, and it points to a future of more personalised medicine.

“For the last few decades, we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to patients. 3D printing at point of demand means that for the first time, with this processes we can produce tablets much closer to the patient, thus disrupting the pharmaceutical supply chain involving three major components-- manufacturing of the raw material (API) and formulations; distribution upto the dispensing point; and dispensing to the end user (Providing the correct medicine dosage and form for the ailment)”, said pharmaceutical supply chain expert.

On-demand drug-printing facilities at clinics and pharmacies, or even in patients’ homes, could allow doctors to improve treatment by creating tailored dosing regimens. In addition to this, doses could be customized with individual colours, flavours, shapes and sizes to appeal to individual patient which will boost their adherence and compliance, he said.

Few months back, the US FDA approved first 3D-printed (3DP) drug, Spritam levetiracetam, developed by Ohio-based pharmaceutical company Aprecia. Spritam levetiracetam is a new drug to control seizures brought on by epilepsy. The first US FDA approved 3D-printed drug has raised prospect of tailor-made drugs that are customised to individual needs.

As 3D printing capabilities develop further, safety and regulatory concerns are addressed and the cost of the technology falls, stakeholders who will be willing to experiment with these 3D printing innovations are likely to gain a competitive edge, he said.

Factors that will contribute to growth of 3D printing in medicine are Research & Development in 3D Medicine/Drug Printing; New materials (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and New Dosage Forms, 3D Software tools for Medicine printing. 3D printing in medicine will have tremendous impact on value chains in the pharmaceutical industry; role of the chemist, safety and pharmacovigilance of drugs. The 3D technology will enable one's to print their drugs. It will decide future of pharmacy, concluded Pednekar.

The 3D printed drugs are future of pharma industry undertaking development of innovative treatments to address unmet medical needs. Simultaneously economic development and the imperative of universal health coverage become drivers of expanded access to newer medicines.


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