Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have developed a new method for the production of medicine. They print medical drugs in QR coded patterns onto edible material.

The printed QR code contains not just the drug itself, but encoded information relevant to the patient and/or healthcare professionals

While researchers constantly push the boundaries for knowledge about medicine and how different bodies respond differently to it, the methods of manufacturing have yet to evolve and move away from mass production. Many who have a given illness get the same product with equal amount of an active compound.

The new method using inkjet printing (IJP) in the production of edible dosage forms in the pattern of a quick response (QR) code is set to revolutionise the future of medicine production.

The use of IJP technology enables the flexible manufacturing of personalised medicine. The production can be tailored to fit each patient and has the potential to protect against wrong medication and fake medicine according to the researchers.

The printed pattern (QR code) contains not just the drug itself, but encoded information relevant to the patient and/or healthcare professionals.

THE SCIENCE

IJP of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API)-containing ink in the pattern of QR code was performed onto a newly developed porous and flexible, but mechanically stable substrate with a good absorption capacity.

Not only did the printing not affect the mechanical properties of the substrate, but the actual drug content of the printed dosage forms was in accordance with the encoded drug content.

The QR encoded dosage forms had a good print definition without significant edge bleeding and were readable by a smartphone even after storage in harsh conditions. This approach of efficient data incorporation and data storage combined with the use of smart devices can lead to safer and more patient-friendly drug products in the future.

“This technology is promising, because the medical drug can be dosed exactly the way you want it to. This gives an opportunity to tailor the medication according to the patient getting it,” said Natalja Genina, Assistant Professor at Department of Pharmacy.

REDUCING WRONG AND FAKE MEDICATION

The shape of a QR code enables storage of data in the “pill” itself.

“Simply doing a quick scan, you can get all the information about the pharmaceutical product. In that sense it can potentially reduce cases of wrong medication and fake medicine,” said Genina.

The researchers hope that in the future a regular printer will be able to apply the medical drug in the pattern of a QR code, while the edible material will have to be produced in advance to allow on-demand production of medical drug near end-users.

“If we are successful with applying this production method to relatively simple printers, then it can enable the innovative production of personalised medicine and rethinking of the whole supply chain,” says professor Jukka Rantanen from Department of Pharmacy.

The researchers are now working to refine the methods for this medical production.

See the video here.

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