3D printing was pioneered way back in 1986 but has recently begun to enter the public consciousness. Over the past ten years, it has blurred the boundaries between science fiction and fact. It is also known as Additive Manufacturing and is used in the automobile industry, aerospace & defence, retail and in the medical healthcare industry, amongst many others. A major component of this is the 3D printed drugs market. 3D printing helps make what was once expensive and inaccessible much more cost-effective. Can this be more apt and necessary anywhere else than in the field of medicine? 3D printing is already used to print artificial bones, to create surgical materials with 3D scans to replace a damaged or missing bone and even to create hearing aid devices. Skull implants have been made for people with head injuries and even titanium heels to replace bone cancer afflicted patients.
3D-Printed Drugs Market Drivers
There are several factors which help the 3D printed drugs market to grow. One key advantage is their instantaneous solubility. 3D printed drugs are produced using powder bed inkjet printing. The elements of the drug are added in a layer by layer approach akin to 3D printing for any other device. This makes the drugs easier to swallow and can be very helpful for patients suffering from dysphagia. 3D printing could also augment the arrival of individualised drugs, or the creation of a combination of drugs. They could be customised for each patient, which would help much more than batch-produced drugs since they would be created specifically taking into account that patient’s medical history. The 3D printed drug market could also make children far less resistant to taking their required medication, since they may be able to choose the shape, colour, design and even taste of the tablet! These are anticipated to be the main drivers of the 3D printed drug market.
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3D-Printed Drugs Market Restraints
Any new technology adopted will inevitably have some downsides and it can sometimes be a race against time to anticipate and then mitigate them. With regards to the 3D printed drugs market, a 3D blueprint has to be made of the patient, their medical history, the dosage required etc. With many scandals surrounding hacking and phishing of data stored online & on the cloud entering the mainstream consciousness, patients might be reluctant to disclose their medical information for 3D printed drugs. Another issue could be regarding mislabelling of blueprints, filling the wrong description or even having a higher dosage strength than advertised. 3D printing becoming commonplace could also be used to print illegal drugs, which will do little to help authorities stop the thriving black market trade for them. The main challenge for the 3D printed drugs market, however, would be a lack of regulation. Most local, domestic and international regulatory bodies have no clear laws regarding 3D printing. There is a question concerning whom the liability will fall on should the drug lead to an adverse reaction – the 3D printing company, medicine Company, or the ingredients supplier. Global nature of drugs is also another problem. Drug companies involved in the 3D printed drugs market would need to ensure that the right packaging and user instructions are accessible. It can also be a major issue printing drugs in a country which has no clear laws regarding its approval.
3D-Printed Drugs Market Key Regions
The major 3D printed drugs markets are the U.S and the E.U. This is because of the dominant role played by their pharmaceutical companies worldwide along with them having a strong domestic healthcare infrastructure. The pharmaceutical sector is highly dependent on R&D spending which also explains their continued dominance. Asia Pacific countries like China and India are expected to record the highest growth in the 3D printed drugs market due to massive investments in both R&D & the pharmaceutical industry.
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3D-Printed Drugs Market Key Market Players
There is only one company involved in the 3D printed drugs market at present. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals successfully developed the world’s first 3D printed drug called Spritam. It has gained approval from the FDA and is on sale in the U.S market at present. The rapid advancement of the technology along with falling 3D printer prices will slowly but surely encourage other players to try their hand in the 3D printed drugs market.