3D Printing Drugs: Medical Miracle or Illegal Substance Enabler?
Among the many applications for 3D printing, scientists are researching how to enable patients to 3D print personalized medicine and drugs.
VICE: Hi Lee. So firstly, can you briefly describe how the 3D printing of a drug works. You don’t just print out a little pill, do you?
Lee Cronin: OK, I will try. Imagine the following: 1) you go to an online drug store; 2) you decide what you need (with a prescription); 3) you buy both the blueprint and the ink; 4) the “ink” comes pre-sealed in a safe cartridge; 5) you print the drug with the special ink and the software; 6) you take the drug.
And what are the main benefits of this approach?
Well it’s nice, because it allows you to deploy the drug more widely and now the software is the value, not the chemical. It removes the problem of counterfeit drugs, for example, and also opens up the way for personal medicine.
Exploring this concept further, it seems that this technology could be used to print illicit drugs in addition to medicine.
And you won’t buy drugs either, you’ll download apps. These apps will give you access to the blueprints that will give you what you need. And you won’t even need to worry about the legality of drugs any more, because there won’t be any drug laws, because drugs will be so tailored it’ll be impossible for the state to keep up without resorting to selling them itself.
So, will 3D printing be used for good drugs or illegal substances? Or both?