FDA Approves 3-D–Printed Drug

The US Food and Drug Administration green lights the first medicine produced by a 3-D printer for use in the human body.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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APRECIA PHARMACEUTICALSAt first glance, SPRITAM looks like any other pill. But the drug, developed by pharmaceutical company Aprecia, is actually layers of powder laid down by a 3-D printer. Its approval this week (August 3) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of epilepsy marks the first 3-D–printed drug to reach the US market, according to a company press release.

SPRITAM is a branded version of the generic anticonvulsant drug levetiracetam. The tablet is designed to dissolve more quickly in the human body than existing pills, and it can provide custom and uniform doses, as well as better taste-masking options, according to the company.

“By combining 3-D printing technology with a highly-prescribed epilepsy treatment, SPRITAM is designed to fill a need for patients who struggle with their current medication experience,” Aprecia CEO Don Wetherhold said in the release. “This is the first in a line...

According to Forbes, SPRITAM could become available in the first quarter of 2016.

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