One of the first three-dimensional printing (3DP) technology was developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1980 as a rapid prototyping technique. It is a computerized design technique, which is flexible, time-saving, and possesses extraordinary manufacturing capabilities. In the last few years, 3D printing has gained huge attention in the pharmaceutical sector due to the overwhelming challenges of conventional pharmaceutical operations after the approval of Aprecia Pharmaceutical’s Spritam tablet from the U.S. FDA. Also, a number of start-ups such as FabRX have started using 3D printing technology for the manufacturing of drugs and medicine, which is further providing a platform to formulate and manufacture 3D printed medications with any drug compound. Similarly, Multiply Labs are using 3D printing technology to manufacture supplement capsules, which will allow the user to take single supplement capsules.
The 3D printing market is majorly driven by the increasing prevalence of dysphagia and the increasing demand for instantaneously soluble drugs. In August 2015, the U.S. FDA approved Pennsylvania-based Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Company’s first 3D printed drug, named Spritam tablet, which is formulated using ZipDose technology and is used to treat epilepsy disorder.
3D printing is versatile and cost-effective in nature, which is further grabbing the attention of the key market players. Moreover, the three most used systems in orienting medicines are printing-based inkjet systems, nozzle-based deposition systems, and laser-based writing systems. The technology is used in several industries—especially the healthcare industry—for the manufacturing of a number of products. In the healthcare industry, the technology will be able to print tissues with blood vessels, prosthetics, medical drugs, implanting bones, heart valves, ear cartilage, skull replacement, and synthetic skin, among others.
Global 3D printed drug market was valued at USD 248 million in 2018 and is expected to grow at the CAGR of 8.3% during the forecast period 2019–2026.
Increasing research activities, rising prevalence of various diseases such as epilepsy, and growing government initiatives are driving the market growth. Moreover, increasing awareness and disposable income is likely to generate a huge demand for drugs by 2025.
The market is considering the availability of the drug in various regions, their regulatory policies, and approval in various countries. Currently, there are no regulations or guidelines imposed on the manufacturing of the drugs. However, it is expected to emerge with the advancements in technology and usage.
Geographically, 3D printed drug market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America and the Middle East & Africa (LAMEA)
North America is accounted for the largest share of the global 3D printed drugs market and is expected to continue the same during the forecast period as the region has the presence of technologically advanced countries such as the U.S. and Canada. Moreover, the increasing prevalence of epilepsy and cardiovascular disease in the region is driving the market growth. As per the CDC, in 2015, around 1.2% (3.4 million) of the U.S. population suffered from epilepsy.
Europe is second in the global 3D printing drug market. This can be attributed to the increasing government support in the region for the development and application of technologically advanced systems.Asia Pacific is expected to grow at the highest CAGR in the years to come due to increasing healthcare expenditure and increasing awareness about 3D printing techniques for the manufacturing drugs. The region is housing one of the highest populations suffering from a number of diseases, which is further boosting the demand for 3D printing in the healthcare sector.
LAMEA is considered to provide lucrative opportunities for the market in the years to come. This can be attributed to the increasing prevalence of dysphagia. Currently, no drugs are commercially available but are expected to hit the market by 2020.
As per the Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology, in 2017, about 65 million people were affected by dysphagia in Brazil, which was around 35.9% of the total population. Thus, the growing number of people suffering from dysphagia and emerging healthcare facilities are projected to fuel the market growth.
Aprecia Pharmaceutical (U.S.) is the only player that has got FDA approval for its 3D Printed Drug.
Some of the other players in the market are FabRX (U.K) and Multiply Labs (U.S.) that are working on products and generic drug types that can be converted into 3D. With the continuous growth and acceptance, the big pharmaceutical giants such as GlaxoSmithKline (U.K), AstraZeneca (U.K) are also expected to enter the market.
Manufacturers are targeting highly prescribed drugs and the most common diseases to increase personalization, which will enable patients to treat themselves. This will further reduce hospital visits and overall cost for the patients.
In the future, patients will be able to download blueprints for drugs and print them at home. Personalization is the ‘attractive’ driver. However, distribution and reach are some of the major concerns in the developing world.
3D printing of drugs is a break-through innovative technology, which is expected to create more opportunities to develop safer and efficient technologies for prescription drugs. In the future, 3D printing facilities may be set up at hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and patients’ homes to facilitate treatment by creating patient-specific regimens.
Big Pharmaceutical Companies to Enter the Market
Some of the pharmaceutical giants such as Novartis, Pfizer, and others are expected to enter the arena in the years to come. Although there is no product in the pipeline, the market players are entering in a contract with the companies to convert the general and most prescribed drugs in the 3D printed drug form. Furthermore, increasing acceptance by the huge population suffering from swallowing problems is the major reason for the popularity of the drugs.
In July 2017: AstraZeneca invested about USD 100 million to expand its manufacturing facility in Sydney, Australia.
In March 2018: FabRx developed its second Sintratec Kit for Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printed medicine
In November 2017: AstraZeneca announced a strategic joint venture with the Chinese Future Industry Investment Fund (FIIF) to form an equally owned company in China, named Dizal Pharmaceutical to bring advanced drugs in the country.
Merger & Acquisition
In May 2016: AstraZeneca acquired the core respiratory business of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”).