As anyone who takes multiple medications knows, keeping track of how many, how often, and when to take various pills can be a pain. Without a system, taking pills as needed and keeping prescriptions filled require close attention. Providence, Rhode Island-based Vitae Industries‘ AutoCompounder won’t order meds or tell you when to take them, but the technology promises an answer to the confusion of multiple prescriptions.
The AutoCompounder creates tablets or gummies containing multiple pharmaceuticals with a proprietary excipient blend. Excipients have no medical properties themselves, but aid in drug delivery in several possible ways. For example, excipients can be used to add bulk, to improve taste, or to improve lubricity or disintegration. Vitae’s excipient compound is mixed with active medications according to formulas Vitae says are vetted by pharmaceutical companies. A pharmacist fills a disposable cartridge with the excipient and drug mixture. Next, the pharmacist or technician places the cartridge into the AutoCompunder, presses a button, and the machine 3D prints tablets or gummies according to programmed instructions.
From the patient’s perspective, the AutoCompounder reduces the number of different pills to those that can be safely mixed. In an ideal situation, all meds would be combined so the patient would need to take only one customized tablet rather than a batch. Compound pharmacies could save significant time by using the AutoCompounder rather than taking the time or hiring someone else for the arduous work of filling capsules. The AutoCompounder uses 3D printing technology to simplify the compounding process. The device promises to create accurately formulated medications and to enable onsite, cost-effective manufacture of doses that can be customized by tablet or batch. The AutoCompounder also cleans itself after each job to prevent cross-contamination.
Vitae has not released images of the AutoCompounder device. The company is actively seeking participants in a pilot program prior to the product launch. The product and the process may sound like something from The Jetsons, but the technology opens a new end-to-end solution from doctor to patient. The concept of custom medication blends used as “ink” for a 3D printing process to create on-demand pills has exciting implications going forward.