Melt extrusion deposition (MED™) 3D printing technology – A paradigm shift in design and development of modified release drug products

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International Journal of Pharmaceutics







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Three-dimensional printing (3DP) technology offers unique advantages for pharmaceutical applications. However, most of current 3D printing methods and instrumentations are not specifically designed and developed for pharmaceutical applications. To meet the needs in pharmaceutical applications for precision, compatibility with a wide range of pharmaceutical excipients and drug materials without additional processing, high throughput and GMP compliance, an extrusion-based 3D printer based on Melt Extrusion Deposition (MED™) 3D printing technology was developed in this study. This technology can process powder pharmaceutical excipients and drugs directly without the need of preparing filament as required by FDM 3D printing. Six different tablet designs based on compartment models were used to demonstrate the precision and reproducibility of this technology. The designed tablets were fabricated using the GMP-compliant MED™ 3D printer and were evaluated in vitro for drug release and in vivo for selected designs using male beagle dogs. Tablet designs with one or more compartments showed versatile release characteristics in modulating the release onset time, release kinetics, duration of release and mode of release. Multiple drugs or formulations were fabricated into a single tablet to achieve independent release kinetics for each drug or to fine-tune the pharmacokinetic profile of a drug. Building upon the theoretical analysis of models, precision and reproducibility of MED™ 3D printing technology, a novel product development approach, 3D printing formulation by design (3DPFbD®) was developed to provide an efficient tool for fast and efficient pharmaceutical product development. The MED™ 3D printing represents a novel and promising technology platform encompassing design and development of modified drug release products and has potential to impact the drug delivery and pharmaceutical product development.