The Future Is Here: What 3D Printed Drugs Could Mean for Pharmaceutical Quality Control

quality assurance in pharmaceutical

Among the many tricky problems faced by the pharmaceutical industry, the fact that each patient is unique creates a particularly difficult one to solve. For medication to be affordable, it often needs to be mass-produced, which means a “one size fits all” approach is taken, rather than the creation of medication made for maximum effectiveness for each individual. With qualities like size, age, gender, and many other factors contributing to the ways in which a drug might react with the body, this approach complicates dosing, leads to uncertainty about side effects, and presents a number of other difficulties for patients and producers alike.

Might 3D printing technology solve this? Now being applied to the pharmaceutical industry, the technology promises big changes in the way drug production and distribution are approached.

Here’s a look at some of the effects it might have, and what they mean for pharmaceutical quality control.

Medicine Could Become Better Tailored to Individuals

3D printing pharmaceuticals would allow for base materials—likely different drugs—to be added to a custom-order medication. With this technology, it could become commonplace to create custom pharmaceuticals that take into account many of the qualities of the individual meant to take them. This could make it easier to create dosing that is appropriate to a person’s physiology, or to make medicines that are to a patient’s aesthetic, tactile, or even taste preferences. The result could be medicines that work better, and that patients are more likely to take when they are supposed to.

There are also additional challenges that would arise from a shift to this new style of drug production. Locations where 3D drugs would be custom printed would need to be able to ensure a similar level of sterility and quality control as are found in traditional drug manufacturing facilities. This is a task that is easier said than done, in particular when there are many potential variations on various drugs that would be produced under one roof. Professionals with pharmaceutical quality control training will have their work cut out for them in this type of environment, though could find their skills in even higher demand than is already the case today.

pharmaceutical quality control

With 3D printing, medicine could someday become tailored to the individual

Professionals in Pharmaceutical Quality Control Can Help Develop New Spins on Old Medicine

Part of the utility of 3D printing medicines is that it allows not only for customized dosing of a medicine, but also for novel delivery systems to be developed. For example, a technology called “ZipDose” makes use of 3D printing to bind multiple layers of powdered drug with a fluid. This helps create a drug format that is quick to dissolve, even up to doses as high as 1,000 mg, and holds tremendous potential for those drugs that are typically taken in higher doses, but that would benefit from quicker action upon consumption.

Development of new drug formats such as this will require a great deal of research and care, which could lead to many new opportunities for individuals trained to do quality assurance in pharmaceutical development. Completing the diploma program in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance and Quality Control at AAPS will allow you to learn about lab testing, clinical development, quality assurance, and many other skills necessary for success. It’s a great way to prepare for important roles helping guide and test the development of new formats of drugs, some of which could be made with 3D printing.

Do you want to get a pharmaceutical quality assurance diploma and open doors to exciting careers?

Contact AAPS to learn more about getting started!