Medicines on Demand

Medicines on Demand

The next big revolution in pharmaceuticals could be miniature production systems – small enough to fit in a briefcase.

Nature, 2019

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  • Analytical
  • Innovative
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Imagine a world where doctors and pharmacists can make the medications you need, right when and where you need them, whether you’re in a war zone or out in the country. This feature article published by Nature shows that you might be closer to living in that world than you think. “Medicines on Demand” are at the center of an important transformation of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.


Chemical engineers have developed a portable device that can manufacture biologic medications.

Intending to transform the drug manufacturing process, Govind Rao and his group at the University of Maryland developed a system called Bio-MOD (Biologic Medications on Demand). Backed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), they invented a portable drug-manufacturing system that fits into a small briefcase.

DARPA project manager Geoff Ling sees the Bio-MOD as a “3D printer” for physicians who want to make drugs fast.

The implementation of this portable technology has the potential to reduce the cost of drugs required in remote locations.

Batch chemistry...

About the Author

Carrie Arnold is a Virginia-based freelance science journalist. Her work can be found in Nature, Scientific American, Mosaic Science, Environmental Health Perspectives, and NOVA Next, where she’s a contributing editor.

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