Thanks to researchers at the University of Glasgow, you could someday whip up your own pharmaceuticals at home. The scientists have created a device similar to a 3D printer for chemicals. Small containers of chemical raw materials, called reagents, are placed in a dispenser in the device. Then software carries out the necessary mechanical steps to blend them into a custom drug.
Starting with simple, easily available ingredients, the researchers turned out sample batches of the muscle relaxant baclofen, then, a second drug that prevents convulsions, and then another that tames acid reflux.
The developers hope that their invention can help stem the flood of counterfeit pharma drugs, which are at best ineffective and, at worst, lethal. Counterfeits cost the pharma industry about $200 billion a year in lost sales and are estimated to make up as much as 30% of the available prescription drugs in developing countries.
TRENDPOST: The Scots’ device could be used to produce specialty, small-batch chemicals, which can be especially handy in biological research. It also can solve the problem of “orphan drugs” – medicines that effectively treat diseases so rare that pharma companies won’t manufacture them because the drugs can’t pay their own way. On the down-side, researchers also admitted that anyone with the device could produce their own illicit narcotics.
In any case, before we make personalized allergy medicines and headache remedies on the kitchen counter, drug regulators around the world would have to completely revamp the rules.