Scientists have developed a method to create five different shapes of medical tablets, including a cube, pyramid, cylinder, sphere, and a torus using 3D printing and a process termed "hot melt extrusion".
Researchers at the UCL School of Pharmacy, University College London, and FabRx Ltd., explained this method in a recently published paper called 'Effect of Geometry on Drug Release From 3D Printed Tablets.'
"The future of medicine design and manufacture is likely to move away from mass production of tablets and capsules of limited dose range towards extemporaneous fabrication of unit dosage forms of any dose, personalized to the patient," says Alvaro Goyanes, lead author.
Goyanes says the factors leading to this change include the development of low dose drugs with narrow therapeutic indices, the increasing awareness and significance of pharmacogenomics, the study of the role of genetics in drug response, and the need to formulate drug combinations.
"To face this challenge, the pharmaceutical industry needs to evaluate and embrace novel manufacturing technologies. One technology with such potential is 3D printing (or) 3DP," adds Goyanes.
The scientists in this study opted to use a technique of hot melt extrusion, a widely used technique within the pharmaceutical industry to evenly spread medication throughout a water soluble polymer.
This technique can produce a drug infused filament. The aims was to then 3D print various pill shapes, which were impossible to manufacture via traditional powder compaction methods, and then correlate geometric parameters with dissolution behavior.