Portable Drug Machine to Increase Production, Cut Cost

MIT professor, Allan Myerson, has developed a prototype machine that puts a drug manufacturing plant into a refrigerator-sized unit. It produces 1,000 pills in 24 hours, faster than some factories. This could become an option for anyone who makes medications, an alternative to traditional plants.

The Department of Defense is funding this project and hopes to use the machine in field hospitals for troops or rural areas during a disease outbreak.  In case of an emergency, these machines could be located across the country, just needing to be turned on.

Traditionally, pharmaceuticals are produced one batch at a time. Large batches of chemicals are synthesized, cooled down, then synthesized again to create compounds. Those compounds have to crystallize, filter, and dry. Powders are then added to create a tablet or capsule. This process can take months, yet the new device produces medicine continuously.

This speedy device will help reduce the high cost of medications. Most of the cost in an expensive drug is not the materials, manufacturing, or transportation, but the drug producers’ monopoly control. The device will create competition among manufacturers.

The two main concerns about using the device include intellectual property rights (typically three to five years) and ensuring safety. MIT researchers say continuous monitoring will be built into the production process. The device is being tested to make generic drugs for now, but there is a possibility that hospitals and pharmacies could eventually make newly-developed pills.
Bebinger, Martha. “Inventing A Machine That Spits Out Drugs In A Whole New Way.” News. Kaiser Health News, 26 May 2016. Web. 29 May 2016.

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