Behind the Science: Designing Printable Medicinal Products

Behind the Science: Designing Printable Medicinal Products

Author: Elmar Zimmermann

Dr. Elmar Zimmermann, Deputy Editor of Chemical Engineering & Technology, talks to Professor Jukka Rantanen of the  University of Copenhagen, Denmark, about his article that was recently accepted for publication in the journal.
In the paper, piroxicam, a drug that relieves painful, inflammatory conditions like arthritis, is used as a model compound to design printable medicinal products.

Professor Rantanen, you investigate more flexible yet robust manufacturing solutions in the pharmaceutical industry. What was the inspiration behind this topic?

The pharmaceutical field is claimed to lag behind when it comes to the manufacturing sciences. The major part of the investments is directed towards drug-discovery programs, and we cannot describe the final pharmaceutical products as being high-tech. Innovation within manufacturing will enable future production of more advanced drug-delivery systems.

What made you think about printing when looking for continuously operating processes for the production of pharmaceuticals?

Printing is a precise and well-established way of dosing small amounts of solution. This would enable more flexible dosing of medicine for patients with personalized needs. Current manufacturing technologies, e.g., tablets prepared by compacting a powder, do not enable the production of flexible medicinal products.

How big an impact do you see your work potentially having?

With increasing interest in more personalized dosing of medicines, all manufacturing solutions that are more flexible have a potentially huge impact. Aging populations and the development of interfaces such as the iPhone are other drivers for more high-tech pharmaceutical products.

What is the current interest of your work described in the article?

There are not yet generally accepted edible carrier materials or inks for printable medicines. We have investigated different edible “papers” and inks that contain medicine. We have explored the general challenges when preparing this type of medicine for mass production.

What is the broader impact of this paper for the scientific community?

We hope to encourage more product-design thinking for future pharmaceutical products, and we also hope that we encourage more multidisciplinary projects that cover the clinical side, material sciences, and manufacturing sciences.

How long do you think it will be before your results become a reality?

The pharmaceutical industry is not always at the forefront of implementing new technological innovations. A major limiting factor is the high level of regulation. Introducing fundamentally new manufacturing solutions in highly regulated industries is always a challenge and we can not expect products immediately. More fundamental work and interaction with regulatory experts is needed to make these products a reality.

How will you follow up on these first steps?

We will continue exploring new materials for printing applications as well as exploring other more flexible manufacturing solutions that enable manufacturing of more flexible pharmaceutical products.

Thank you for the interview.

The article they talked about:

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