Washington, DC — The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug manufactured using 3D printing: Aprecia’s epilepsy-fighting Spritam (available 2016).

The 3D printers build layers of medication, one on top the other, until the right dosage is reached. The approach packages those layers more tightly than traditional manufacturing choices while keeping the material porous enough to quickly dissolve. That’s particularly appealing for patients who might need a high dose (up to 1000 milligrams with Spritam) but have a hard time swallowing.


“As a result, Spritam enhances the patient experience — administration of even the largest strengths of levetiracetam with just a sip of liquid,” Aprecia said in a statement on Monday. “In addition, with Spritam there is no measuring required as each dose is individually packaged, making it easy to carry this treatment on the go.”

This isn’t the FDA’s first foray into the world of 3D printing. They’ve previously cleared medical devices – including prosthetics and stents for 3D manufacturing. But the pills may open up real opportunities to bring more personal medication closer to patients. A simple tweak in a formula would let a hospital print a custom dose on site.

(Featured image courtesy www.makerbot.com)

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.