Research Could Lead To Printing Drugs For Individuals, Not Populations

Jul 23, 2014

This is the sixth incarnation of the drug printing rig, which drops small amounts of a drug onto the concave surface of a pre-made placebo pill.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Rex Reklaitis thinks of his drug printing rig almost like a time machine.

The Purdue researcher is working to develop a commercially viable machine that can print small amounts of a drug which are tailored to an individual patient.

That would be a shift away from the current model used by large drug companies which can make hundreds of thousands of aspirin tablets in an hour.

Instead, Reklaitis thinks of the machine more like something a 19th Century apothecary might use to fulfill a prescription from a doctor: one part of one drug combined with two parts of another, etc.

WBAA's Stan Jastrzebski spoke recently with Reklaitis and with his fellow researcher Arun Giridhar about the rig and how it might change the way drugs are constructed and distributed.

Instead of pharmacies getting large, generic drug shipments from pharmaceutical companies, it's possible future technicians could use a machine like the one pictured above to manufacture just enough of a drug for a patient and to make it just strong enough for their specific physiology.