It might seem like something out of Star Trek, but pills that are produced by a printer are now a reality and the FDA has approved the first one. In what the BBC says is a world first, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals has won approval to produce epilepsy medication Spritam on a 3D printer. In a press release, the company explains that 3D printing on a device it has developed, which creates the pill layer by layer, allows for the creation of a "porous formulation that rapidly disintegrates with a sip of liquid," allowing it to pack higher doses into a single pill and making it a lot easier for children or people with swallowing disorders to take their medicine.
The pill, which is a new version of a medication used to treat seizures, is expected to hit the market early next year and Aprecia says it is working on more, reports NPR. Experts say the technology, which will allow makers to create pills with very precise, personalized doses, could revolutionize the industry. "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," a lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire tells the BBC. (A 3D printer was used to give this dog new front legs.)