Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Can't Stop the Signal: "Print Your Own Drugs." Welcome to the Future.

Reason.com: "The first commercially 3D-printed drug, the epilepsy medication SPRITAM, went on sale in March of this year. SPRITAM doesn't fulfill Cronin's promise of custom medications printed by patients—3D production in this case is used to create a rapidly disintegrating, easily swallowed pill—but it's a demonstration of the medical use of the technology earlier than most people expected to see anything of the sort. 

And even as SPRITAM prepared to go to market, "investigators from Wake Forest University, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina created a prototype computer algorithm featuring software for 3D printing of personalized medications" and successfully used it to print varying doses of pills. The software isn't yet ready to make an appearance at pharmacies, much less in people's homes, but it works now. That brings the goal of personalized medicine much closer to fruition, just a few years after Cronin invoked Star Trek. This "could very well change how we treat serious and common medical conditions, from epilepsy to chronic pain, on a patient-specific basis, making medications customizable and therefore cheaper, more accurate, and more effective than ever before," predicted 3Ders.org...

Holmes' reminder that any attempt to restrict the use of 3D printing is likely to be bypassed rings more true than Cronin's hopes for unhackable chemical ink and printers. Innovation has its own logic—its potential isn't so easily confined to the preferred parameters of its creators, let alone politicians and government bureaucrats. That should be apparent 17 years after Napster and its spawn revolutionized the enjoyment of music and film, three years after Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed 3D-printed a functioning firearm and pushed gun control laws toward futility, and at a moment when FBI officials throw public temper tantrums over encryption. As with every other exercise of creativity, 3D printing is changing the world in ways that the powers-that-be might or might not like. They'll have to adjust. But they may kick and scream a bit on the way. 

With SPRITAM on the market, lawyers and regulators are sweating bullets about what it all means—and their worries only start at kitchen-table ecstasy tablets, then range far beyond. Recently, the Dutch law firm De Clercq Advocaten Notarissen cautioned at length about the intellectual property and liability threats 3D printing poses to the current order, as well as the dangers of "printing of weapons, keys for police handcuffs, military material, medication or illegal drugs, or other undesirable products." At almost the same moment, Bloomberg BNA spoke with legal experts who warned that "the recent FDA approval of the first 3D printed drug could lead to several complicated legal, product liability and intellectual property conflicts that could derail the new technology before it even starts.""

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