Background: A recently FDA approved 3D printed drug is paving a path for new pharmaceutical manufacturing era. The 3D printing is a novel approach of producing 3D pharmaceuticals from digital designs, in a layer-by-layer fashion. However, traditional manufacturing of drug products is being carried out from decades with well-established manufacturing processes and with well approved regulatory guidelines but these processes are too obsolete in concern of process aptitude and manufacturing flexibility. On the other hand, 3D printing provides a competitive flexibility in terms of personalized drug dosage forms with complex geometries that will be made on-demand with desired drug release kinetics, hence providing the formulator a substantial provision of improvising the safety and efficacy of the drugs. Furthermore, this novel 3D technology allows tailoring of composite tissue scaffolds and sample models for characterization that closely mimic in-vivo simulations. Nevertheless, certain limitations are there in terms of regulatory aspects hindering the launch of 3DP products in the market.
Methods: Exhaustive search were made on Google Scholar and PubMed databases concerning 3-D printing methods, drug delivery applications, and past to present evolution of personalized medicine.
Results: Although a high magnitude of progress have been made on 3-D printing techniques in a short span of time, still inkjet, nozzle-based deposition, stereolithography and selective laser sintering techniques are the most popular ones. Their application is adapted in the fabrication of tablets, implants, polypills and nanoparticles.
Conclusion: 3D printing is revolutionizing the pharma expectations towards customized medicines but still there is a need to explore the aspects of cost, flexibility and bioequivalence. The present review provides a comprehensive account of various 3D printing technologies and highlights the opportunities and key challenges of 3D printing relevant to pharmaceuticals.