By Tim Tracy
The clinical trial model for drug development requires a significant investment of time and money from pharmaceutical companies. A recent study estimates the cost of bringing a new drug to market at $2.6 billion.1 When including post-approval R&D costs, that price tag increases to $2.87 billion. These numbers are already staggering, but when you consider that 90 percent of medicines fail in early-phase clinical trials, it becomes clear the industry is not getting back what it is putting into its drug development programs.2 As drugs—and the clinical trials needed to ultimately commercialize them—continue to become more complex, they will also increase in cost. Therefore, it is more important than ever for pharmaceutical manufacturers to improve the speed and efficiency of their clinical trials.
In 2015, the use of 3D printing (3DP) for developing and formulating pharmaceutical dosage forms made news when the FDA approved the first prescription drug manufactured using the innovative technology. Yet, the enhanced precision used in 3DP to create successful fast-melting formulations does not just offer a way to improve the patient experience; it can also drive efficiencies in early drug development by allowing more flexibility with dosage size and strengths, leading to a more responsible use of precious and costly resources.