Patients with various chronic diseases consume around eight to ten tablets or capsules a day. In the future, pharmacists will be able to “squeeze” such medicines into a single tablet on prescription, without the patient having to worry about forgetting to take them on time.
This is the future of pharmaceuticals, according to researchers at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences who have launched Europe’s first validated three-dimensional (3D) drug printer.
“This printer has been a long journey; it took us eight years from the idea to today’s result, and today we have something that will revolutionize pharmaceutics,“ said Professor Jurga Bernatonienė, Head of the Department of Drug Technology and Social Pharmacy at the Faculty of Pharmacy.
The university purchased the FabRx printer for medical products in May for more than €100,000.
Desired shape and composition
“The 3D printer is designed for the production of personalized medicines, and it is possible to choose the dose, shape, and color according to the patient’s wishes and needs. This allows us to ensure the correct medication regimen,“ said the professor.
Like a conventional printer, this one can create three-dimensional objects in a wide range of shapes and colors, from a regular pill to a heart or a horse, for young patients.
In pharmacies – a decade later
So far, the novelty, cost, and complexity of this technology are limiting its widespread adoption.
Jurga Bernatonienė is convinced that three-dimensional printing of medicines is a revolutionary technology that will bring about many exciting changes in the future.
“In 10 to 15 years’ time, all pharmacies will have such printers,“ she said. The scientist is already considering the possibility of using the 3D printer to create sensory pills with the special feature of tracking the movement of the medicine in the body.