The printing of drugs was originally proposed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,1 and teams from several universities are now working on similar projects including Purdue University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University in cooperation with the Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering (RCPE) GmbH.2
The objective of the current research project at the RCPE is the fast and costeffective development of a printing technology for drugs that can be tailored to the age, gender or lifestyle of individual patients. This can be achieved by using printing technology that allows ultraprecise dosing of APIs onto cellulose-based edible paper carrier materials. The technique is intended to be implemented for the production of small batches in hospitals or pharmacies, and the manufacture of supplies for clinical studies.Using the technique could significantly reduce problems, such as drug overdosing, by individually tailoring the drug dose to the constitution, lifestyle and — potentially — to the genetic profile of the individual patient. Furthermore, by printing timerelease layers on top of a drug layer, welldefined time profiles for controlled drug delivery may also be achieved.
The technique could also help reduce costs in the development of new pharmaceuticals; for instance, for dosing studies during phase I clinical studies, reducing lengthy development times and the problems associated with classical formulation work, as only a solution or dispersion has to be processed. Drugs could be developed faster, thus meeting the goals of the critical path initiative of the FDA, which focuses on methods to speed up pharmaceutical development. Lastly, the technique also provides interesting perspectives for low-dose and multidose drugs by providing excellent and verifiable dose accuracy and homogeneity, as well as reducing or even eliminating negative interactions of the individual APIs, as they can be printed at different positions.