11-08-2015 | FDA approves 3D-printed epilepsy drug

'11-08-2015 | FDA approves 3D-printed epilepsy drug' image

The FDA in the US has approved the first ever 3D-printed drug and it's for epilepsy! In what may be a sign of things to come, the Spritam medication by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals is being discussed as a 'game changer' paving the way for a new range of personalised, easy-to-administer treatments.

Spritam is a formulation of the common epilepsy drug Levetiracetam.

Announcing the development, Don Wetherhold, Aprecia CEO said "By combining 3-D printing technology with a highly-prescribed epilepsy treatment, SPRITAM is designed to fill a need for patients who struggle with their current medication experience."

3D printing is used to print layers of the powdered drug, binding each layer together, and then removing the excess powder to leave a porous formulation that rapidly disintegrates with a sip of liquid. The formulation, they say, will make it much easier for patients who have trouble swallowing pills, especially larger ones. The technology allows for the delivery of a high drug load (up to 1,000mg per dose) so it could lead to patients having to take fewer tablets. It is also being discussed as advantageous for parents dealing with the daily struggle of getting their child to take their medication.

3-D printing was developed in the 1980s, originally as a means of producing prototypes in the manufacturing industry. Recently, many new uses for the developing technology have been found including in healthcare, where cost advantages make it attractive to governments and patients alike. Already 3D printers have been used to build medical devices but Spritam is the first drug to be approved.

The ability to print medications in this way may open the door to a number of new distribution options, including the eventual possibility of printing personalised medicine at medical appointments or even in one's own home.

The drug is expected to be available in the US in early 2016, licenced for both adults and children.