The world's first pill to be made by a 3D printer has been approved for sale in the United States by the regulatory body, Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The technology allows layers of medication to be packaged more tightly, and in precise dosages, and it could revolutionise a process that has been virtually unchanged for more than 1000 years.
The new printed drug called Spritam treats seizures caused by epilepsy and is made by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Company in the US.
Chief executive Don Wetherhold said developing the technology took time and started in 2003, proof of concept, he said, came some five years later.
"To unlock the value of 3D printing as a manufacturing platform you had to come up with the equipment that would allow you to do that on a commercial scale," he said.
The company has also developed a technology it calls ZipDose, which makes high-dose medications easier to swallow.
The main advantages of a printed pill, he said, were its convenience in high dose and large tablet formulations, it dissolves in the same way as other oral medicines.
"What we've been able to do is take products that are usually very high dose load, and that usually translates into high strength in a large tablet, and make them essentially disappear very quickly with just a small sip of water."
This ease of use should improve compliance in a disease like epilepsy with up to 50 percent non-adherence to medicine regimes.
He said the technology also offered the possibility of combining multiple active ingredients in one pill, which could prove a boon to those who have to take complicated, multiple-medications every day.