3D Printing Could Revolutionize Drugs | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

3D Printing Could Revolutionize Drugs

Downloadable, DIY drugs could soon make the idea of "controlled substances" a thing of the past.

Image: 

The future is high. Photo via

By Bryan Le

07/26/13

| Share

3D printing is a highly-anticipated new technology that could soon "revolutionize" the drug market. This technology, now in development, could soon allow us to design and print everything from toys and tools to human hearts—and, inevitably, drugs. Lee Cronin, a chemist from the University of Glasgow, says he has created a prototype 3D "Chemputer" that can create medicine by assembling chemical compounds on a molecular level. “What Apple did for music, I'd like to do for the discovery and distribution of prescription drugs,” says Cronin. Prescription patients would be able to purchase a "blueprint" and chemical "ink" at an online version of a pharmacy, and could then print the drug at home with software and a 3D molecular printer. Chemicals and dosages could be tailored to meet each individual's specific needs, and certain allergies and other health concerns could be "edited out." If successful, this new prescription method could radically alter the entire pharmaceutical industry, taking control away from Big Pharma and placing it in the hands of the consumers. “In the future, we will not sell drugs, but blueprints or apps,” says Cronin.

But just like music on iTunes, the technology will also open up avenues for consumers to evade the rules. Mike Power, author of Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High, predicts ambitious DIY chemists will eventually control the drug market—making the very notion of "controlled substances" a thing of the past. Power says this could be a good thing: free production and distribution of drugs like LSD and MDMA, he claims, would eliminate the need for “designer drugs" (unregulated substitutes for illicit street drugs, with often-unpredictable and harmful effects). But downloading illegal drug blueprints from unknown sites could also create the same problems as downloading music: Without any official standards or regulation, the blueprints could be mislabeled (the same problem, Powers points out, that currently plagues the illegal drug market). And chemically sloppy medicines could have far more harmful consequences than sloppily-recorded songs. But for better or for worse, the technology is on the horizon. When, exactly? “Maybe 10 to 15 years? Who knows?” says Cronin. “Maybe five to 10.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
An Audience with Gabor Maté

According to the rock star of addiction theory, every addict had a traumatic childhood whether they realize it or not.

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv