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What aren’t we printing these days? After 3D printing organs and valves, a UK team is expanding this technology to pharmaceuticals. The group of researchers from University of Central Lancashire developed a specialized drug-polymer filament that can be used to print custom dose medications. With medicine becoming a more specific science, physicians are now prescribing specific doses for individual patients which are extremely expensive to make. With this filament in 3D printers, however, patients can print out their own personalized drugs even on affordable desktop machines in their homes.

This would greatly drive down the cost of custom dose pills and increase access for a wide range of people. For those who are unable to frequently leave their house, a home-printer would be extremely beneficial. In addition, the accuracy of this new system will help individuals like liver patients who need drugs specific down to a fraction of a milligram. The team is currently waiting for a patent application, and UK pharmaceutical companies could begin using this technology as early as 2019.

Check out this great video of the team using a MakerBot 3D printing machine to print a theophylline tablet:

Think About:

1. How do patent laws affect cost, timelines, and accessibility?
2. What is next in 3D printing?
3. How soon will the US being to utilize this technology?
4. What kind of conditions/diseases require custom drugs?