The Impact Of 3D Printing On Pharmaceutical Manufacturing And The Potential For Personalised Dosage Forms And Drug Delivery Systems
3d printing Pharma

The Impact Of 3D Printing On Pharmaceutical Manufacturing And The Potential For Personalised Dosage Forms And Drug Delivery Systems

By Priyobroto April 28, 2023 - 179 views

3D printing has the potential to not only revolutionise core business segments like manufacturing and construction, but also the pharmaceutical industry. From pharmaceutical manufacturing to personalised dosage forms and drug delivery systems, there are several applications of this technology in the sector.

It has led to a major shift with a change visible from conventional medicine mass production towards personalised drug products for each individual. The concept has future potential with regard to enabling advantages for the industry, patients, and pharmacists, through offering on-demand production and design of flexible medicine formulations, complete with personalised sizes, shapes, dosages, drug releases, and combinations of multiple drugs.

At the same time, 3D printing may be integrated into applications like precision medicine and additive manufacturing with the technology enabling the creation of medicines personalised for therapeutic needs of patients, including drug combinations, dosage, and drug release profiles along with personal requirements in terms of the flavour, texture, shape, and size. 3D printing also ensures multiple advantages for not just the pharmaceutical industry and clinical practices, while also helping lower overall costs and speeding up development cycles alongside.

Pharmaceutical 3D printing system types

3D printing has several avatars in terms of its usage in the pharmaceutical manufacturing space. These include the following: 

  1. Design- Pharmacists and companies can design and tailor formulations with software, choosing sizes, shapes, and types that cater to clinical or pre-clinical needs. The designed formulation will be transferred digitally to the chosen 3D printer. 
  2. Develop- Printlets can be created through the insertion of the necessary ink cartridge into the printer. The suitable parameters are chosen including temperature, resolution, and printing, which are usually based on the characteristics of the drug, type of printer, and the outcomes which are desired. 
  3. Dispense- The 3D printer can automatically enable the preparation of printed formulations on a layer-wise basis, which will be prepared for dispensing through the pharmacist. 

Some methods of printing include SLS (selective laser sintering), FDM (fused deposition modelling), BJ (binder jet), DPE (direct powder extrusion), and SSE (semi-solid extrusion). Every type of technology has its own specific technical attributes while enabling the production of personalised drugs with diverse attributes.

Key benefits of 3D Printing for pharmaceutical manufacturing

Here are some of the biggest advantages of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical manufacturing space, right from drug delivery systems to personalised dosage forms. 

  1. Personalisation of treatments on the basis of individual or therapeutic needs of patients. 
  2. Patients can ultimately select formulation types from available catalogues, leading to preferential colours, textures, flavours, sizes, and shapes. This will mean higher autonomy of patients along with engagement across various pathways of treatments and higher adherence to medicines. 
  3. Medicines can be produced with exact dosages as needed by patients, or even flexible types of dosages. 
  4. The efficiency of treatment can be improved while also lowering the risks of any unwanted effects due to inaccurate and unnecessary dosages. 
  5. These abilities may be helpful for pediatric patients, who may not always prefer traditional formulations that are mass-produced. 
  6. 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry may benefit senior citizens or older people, especially those with complex dosage needs and higher tablet volumes regularly. Combinations of multiple dosages and drugs along with drug release profiles into single formulations may be advantageous for this section of the populace. 
  7. Clinical pharmacy practices may also benefit from easy integration of 3D printers, with SSE, FDM, and DPE being especially helpful in these cases. Pharmacists will be able to leverage flexible and automatic systems of compounding which may generate tailored forms of dosages upon demand, based on evolving situational or patient requirements. On-site printers will naturally enhance access to medicines for various categories of patients, lower manufacturing costs, and also hasten discharge timelines due to lower labour needs. 
  8. The overall application of this technology can reduce the total time required between drug discoveries and marketing formulations along with the overall costs linked to the same. 
  9. 3D printing may be deployed as an alternative method of production by the industry for offering mass-personalised/customised medicines. Formulations may be customised for patients as mentioned for on-demand production throughout decentralised areas including clinics, pharmacies, and even the homes of patients. 

Down the line, 3D printing may be a veritable game-changer for the pharmaceutical industry, enabling personalisation and formulations, along with efficient drug delivery as well, while simultaneously lowering go-to-market timelines, costs, and many other hassles involved in the process for pharmaceutical companies.


What is 3D printing and how does it work in the pharmaceutical industry?

3D printing or additive manufacturing is the procedure of creating three-dimensional solid items from digital files. It works through the manufacturing of specific, multi-drug, and personalised formulations in the pharmaceutical industry. 

How can 3D printing be used to create personalised dosage forms and drug delivery systems?

3D printing can be leveraged for the creation of personalised forms of dosages and drug delivery systems, through either multi-drug combinations or formulations, or on-demand dosages with differentiated flavors, textures, sizes, and shapes.

How does 3D printing impact the speed and efficiency of pharmaceutical manufacturing? 

3D printing, especially on-site, lowers the time taken by pharmaceutical manufacturing entities to produce on-demand drugs. It also reduces the time between discovery and marketing of formulations by a great extent. The entire procedure becomes more efficient with lower labour, costs, and higher efficiency with minimal logistics. 

What are the regulatory considerations for 3D printed pharmaceuticals?

The medical products made by 3D printers are regulated by the FDA. The regulatory review that is needed depends on the type of product that is being manufactured, along with its intended usage, and the potential risk factors for patients.

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