GSK Believes in the Power of Printing APIs

May 28, 2010
Stephanie Sutton
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

A collaboration involving GlaxoSmithKline and two British universities is looking to create faster acting medicines with a technology that prints APIs onto a tablet?s surface.

A collaboration involving GlaxoSmithKline and two British universities is looking to create faster acting medicines with a technology that prints APIs onto a tablet’s surface. Drugs produced using the new process would no longer need to be broken down by the digestive system before they could enter the bloodstream and would, therefore, offer faster onset of action. Ultimately, it could also be possible to print several drugs onto one pill, reducing the number of tablets required when a patient is on multiple medicines.

GSK has already developed a way of printing an API onto a tablet, but the process can currently only be applied to 0.5% of all medicines in tablet form. The collaboration, however, is hoping to increase this to 40%.

“Some APIs can be dissolved in a liquid, which then behaves like normal ink, so then the process is fairly straightforward,” Nik Kapur from the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Engineering, who is leading the research, said in a press statement. “However, when you’re working with APIs that don’t dissolve, the particles of the drug are suspended in the liquid, which creates very different properties and challenges for use within a printing system.”

If successful, the technology would also have a positive impact on manufacturers because it would enable quality control of each tablet as it is produced. One of the major challenges in tabletting is ensuring that each tablet contains the correct dose of API — this is currently done by statistically checking samples post production. The printing system, however, would ensure that the correct, exact dose is always delivered, offering greater dosage consistency.

www.leeds.ac.uk