US regulator approves first drug made with 3-D printer

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it has approved the first drug made with a 3-D printer - pills for treating epilepsy.

The Ohio-based company Aprecia Pharmaceuticals said its system can produce doses of up to 1,000 mg per tablet.

It said the product is a "porous formulation" that dissolves with just a sip of liquid, making it convenient for people who have trouble swallowing pills or for getting children to take medication.

FDA spokeswoman Sandy Walsh confirmed to AFP that the medication known as Spritam is the first made with a 3-D printer that the agency has approved.

Spritam, or Levetiracetam, has already been on the market for years in other formats, Walsh said.

Aprecia, which is not listed, plans to start distributing the medication in the first quarter of next year.

The FDA had already given the green light to other medical products made with such 3-D technology, such as prosthetic devices.

Aprecia said on its website that in coming years it plans to develop other kinds of medication with the new technology.

The health care industry is turning more and more to 3-D printers to produce custom-made implants for patients with rare pathologies or with certain kinds of injuries.