Volume 11, Issue 3 (March 2019)
Open Access Review
The Digital Pharmacies Era: How 3D Printing Technology Using Fused Deposition Modeling Can Become a Reality
by Maisa R. P. Araújo, Livia L. Sa-Barreto, Tais Gratieri, Guilherme M. Gelfuso and Marcilio Cunha-Filho
Pharmaceutics 2019, 11(3), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics11030128
Received: 24 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 14 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
The pharmaceutical industry is set to join the fourth industrial revolution with the 3D printing of medicines. The application of 3D printers in compounding pharmacies will turn them into digital pharmacies, wrapping up the telemedicine care cycle and definitively modifying the pharmacotherapeutic treatment of patients. Fused deposition modeling 3D printing technology melts extruded drug-loaded filaments into any dosage form; and allows the obtainment of flexible dosages with different shapes, multiple active pharmaceutical ingredients and modulated drug release kinetics—in other words, offering customized medicine. This work aimed to present an update on this technology, discussing its challenges. The co-participation of the pharmaceutical industry and compounding pharmacies seems to be the best way to turn this technology into reality. The pharmaceutical industry can produce drug-loaded filaments on a large scale with the necessary quality and safety guarantees; while digital pharmacies can transform the filaments into personalized medicine according to specific prescriptions. For this to occur, adaptations in commercial 3D printers will need to meet health requirements for drug products preparation, and it will be necessary to make advances in regulatory gaps and discussions on patent protection. Thus, despite the conservatism of the sector, 3D drug printing has the potential to become the biggest technological leap ever seen in the pharmaceutical segment, and according to the most optimistic prognostics, it will soon be within reach.