A group of Greek and Swedish researchers has successfully 3D printed cannabidiol tablets (CBD) using a consumer-grade 3D printer. The team created an algorithm that can help users print customized dosage pills at home. Many people rely on CBD to help alleviate anxiety and pain, but most solutions are one-size-fits-all, and they’re often expensive.
The pills come with their own “orodispersible films,” which means they dissolve in the mouth rapidly. But just as remarkable is the option to print them at home. The researchers created the tablets by using a MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D printer, which is popular with hobbyists and can be purchased for around $4,340. That may sound like a lot, but prices for 3D printers are falling, and the benefits of home manufacturing with more than just molten plastics could make the value proposition more compelling soon.
Custom doses — According to the 3D Printing Industry, the team succeeded at creating the “patient-optimized” dimensions to create precise doses for the CBD tablets. "These products are sold freely in U.S. dispensaries, and this uncontrolled distribution facilitates abuse. Personalization of the drug product is a potential measure to inhibit CBD abuse, as both the dose and the intended administration route, will be customized for each patient," the team explains.
The researchers point out that one in seven people in the United States relies on CBD. If this method is mainstreamed after receiving official certification, pharmacies, hospitals, and other distributors will be able to facilitate the use of CBD much more effectively by patients. It might even reach domestic realms, allowing people to customize their own CBD tablets at home.
How does 3D printing CBD tablets work? — The algorithm creates designs based on patients’ specific needs. Depending on the patient's weight and other details, the algorithm tailors a tablet to suit their specifications and then creates a 3D file that can be fed to the 3D printer, which is loaded with a specialized, CBD-containing filament.
"This approach is an alternative pathway to promote automation in the manufacturing of highly personalized medicines," the team stated, per 3D Printing Industry. "We envisage that further pharmaceutical research and engineering solutions will gradually shape and materialize the foreseen digital health environment."
The International Journal of Pharmaceutics has a diagram explaining how the algorithm, which you can see below:
The 3D printing of tablets is gaining momentum in the world of pharmaceuticals. You have the 3D printed Spritam, which is designed to treat epilepsy. There are also 3D printed opioid pills. But winning approval from regulatory bodies, like the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, is challenging and costly. That could be the biggest obstacle between the researchers’ work and its reaching the masses.