FDA Approves First 3-D-Printed Pill

ziprema
Spritam, also known as levetiracetam, is the first 3-D-printed pill to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first 3-D-printed pill, a medication for epilepsy called Spritam (levetiracetam). The pill is composed of porous layers of the drug, which allow it to dissolve more rapidly than previous formulations of levetiracetam—and all other seizure medications—according to its manufacturer, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals.

This pill design could be particularly impactful for those prone to seizures, because they often have trouble swallowing. In addition, children with epilepsy may be averse to taking large pills, Quartz reports.

It’s also a signal the FDA may consider approving other 3-D-printed drugs. This could enable doctors to tailor medications, and their specific formulations in pills, to individual patients in the future.

"For the last 50 years, we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals, and for the first time this process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient," Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at England's University of Central Lancashire, tells the BBC.

3-D-printing promises to have an impact in other areas of medicine. Researchers are experimenting with creating 3-D-printed tracheas and bones, as well as ears, kidneys and skin, Quartz noted.

The 3-D-printed variety of Spritam should be available commercially by early 2016.