3D printing has come a long way: a bicycle, a bikini, chocolate. And now, drugs. Researchers at the University of Glasgow have been experimenting with combining chemicals in a 3D printer. When it’s all said and done, the process yields a synthesized compound (a drug). The printed drugs are in a crude state right now, but the BBC reports: “They predict the technique will be used by pharmaceutical firms within five years, and by the public within 20.”
Researcher Mark Symes explains the process:
"It's almost like a layer cake - you print the last reactionary agent first and then build other chemical layers above, finally adding a liquid at the top. The liquid goes to layer one making a new molecule which goes to the next layer creating another and so on until at the bottom you get your prescription drug out."
The potential for printing your own drugs could potentially revolutionize our pharmaceutical distribution system, giving you, the drug-taking public, an advantage when it comes to ordering your meds.
I’m pretty sure the whole process goes something like this: