The Public’s Opinion On The 3-D Printed Pill

In last week’s post, we talked about the approval, progress, and benefits of the newly created 3-D printed pill Spritam. Many of the articles that report on the news of the drug have sparked interesting debates in their comments section.

My general thought before reading these comments were that many people would be excited about how 3-D printing can help advance the medical field in this aspect. After looking through the comments, however, I came to see that there is quite a division in how people interpret these news.

Only a few of the comments people left talk about how they have hopes that the use of 3-D printing to create pills will be able to help patients with the cost and specificity of their drugs.

Marion Meads – a commenter from an NPR article – writes that, “Printing drugs has tremendous application potentials … Why haven’t they thought of this sooner? It’s an amazing idea!” Meads’ words suggest that a portion of the public has enthusiasm for the progress of 3-D printed pills.

Most readers, however, have doubt on whether this development will truly benefit society. One of the major issues discussed by the viewers was about how authorities will attempt to control and restrict the use of 3-D printers to make drugs.

For example, another user named TheAntiPill from the NPR website wrote that, “Any time a new technology comes out, I think of unintended consequences before possible benefits. Can people, given access to necessary ingredients, print pills at home, thus making the production and distribution of drugs that much easier?”

In addition to the concern about drug control, a few other viewers are also worried about the business aspects of this development. NPR user Tom Horsely comments, “No doubt this makes an ‘old’ drug new so the manufacturer can get a new exclusive patent for it without doing any real work.”

Along with Horsely, other like-minded users suspect that Aprecia Pharmaceuticals – the company that developed Spritam – is only changing the manufacturing of their drug to 3-D printing as an excuse to receive extended patent protection.

One other comment on the NPR article by a user named Listener RayDeo, however, brings attention to another issue that many others have seemed to ignore. His comment states, “the fabrication of drugs to deliver different features means that the FDA would effectively have to authorize each and every printer … Otherwise, the manufacturers liability immediately transfers to the entity printing the pill. Your local pharmacist… is probably already thinking… time to just sell food and knick-knacks.”

Listener RayDeo brings up an interesting point that questions how these 3-D printers will have to be regulated and how it affects the pharmacists that need to operate them. It makes us wonder, are people truly ready to accept this responsibility?

In general, most comments talk about the improvement of 3-D printing as an asset for manufacturing drugs, concerns about drug control, or worry about companies taking advantage of 3-D printing as a way to increase their own profits. With all these different opinions, it’s troubling to see how this issue may create a bigger division with future development. It’s also important, however, that both the developers and consumers acknowledge these doubts to ensure 3-D printing has a positive effect for society.

(Note: The image i used isn’t entirely relevant but.. I couldn’t find anything other than the image i used in the previous post that relates to the 3-D pill..)

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