What are the limits of 3D printing in pharma and healthcare?

3d printed frogs

 

3D printing has become a common idea across a number of industries, and recently the pharma and healthcare sectors are coming up more and more.

There have been some amazing examples recently.

One such example is the surgeons in Portugal who, after two failed attempts at surgery on a young boy, replicated a tumour and the surrounding tissue to allow practice before a final successful surgery.

Another is an Indian company who are working on printable pills in the hope of making ordering prescription drugs easier and more affordable. The vision being that medicines could be more easily tailored to a patient’s make up and that the formulas would be downloadable anywhere that had the right printing equipment, thus reducing issues in remote areas.

A group of Louisiana Tech University researchers are also working on a way to 3D print chemotherapeutic medicines which would mean that medical implants could be inserted which do not have to be removed, as with current models, but rather will be absorbed into the patient’s system.

These things are amazing, but what does it truly mean for the industry?

How will regulators adjust to keep up with these kinds of technologies? How will this change the relationships that patients have with the medical community? How will the pricing of medicines be affected? What will happen to clinical trials models to accommodate these new medicines?

These technologies look like they could bring some real development for healthcare, but there are still many questions that need to be answered.

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