The first 3D printed pill was approved by the FDA not too long ago. The makers of the drug claim that because of the printing technique, the pill will be able to deliver a higher dose of the medicine while being more soluble. Even though 3D printing has technically been around since the 1980s, it’s exciting to see how far it’s come along. It will be interesting to see what happens to medicine when 3D printers start becoming ubiquitous.
For instance, if hospitals start acquiring 3D printing units, they may be able to manufacture their own organs, prosthetics, medications, and equipment. Just recently, a Gazan doctor claimed that he designed a 3D printed stethoscope that costs $5 and outperforms the Littmann stethoscope. These type of results have interesting economic ramifications as well. If hospitals are able to make significant amounts of their equipment in-house for lower prices, by how much will healthcare costs be reduced?
I can also see how household and medical 3D printing may intersect as well. Envision a future where medical devices could be printed in the comfort of one’s own home! This could potentially save time and money in the long run. However, there will undoubtedly be patent issues when people have the ability to print in their own homes. Will companies claim infringement when someone prints a device or drug designed by them?
Even though we are currently nowhere near this type of situation, it is definitely an exciting time to be in medicine!