Like most websites The Medicine Maker uses cookies. In order to deliver a personalized, responsive service and to improve the site, we remember and store information about how you use it. Learn more.
Manufacture Technology and Equipment, Advanced Medicine

Print it, Eat it

With the rise of the smartphone, we have all become familiar with the QR code – used for everything from boarding an aircraft to paying for a service. But what if you could eat one and receive a dose of medicine?

A team from the University of Copenhagen have taken the QR code a step further, creating a system to print QR codes on to an edible material as a means to create personalized medicines. “It actually started out as a funny idea briefly discussed over lunch,” says Natalja Genina, co-author of the associated paper (1) and assistant professor in the Group of Manufacturing and Materials at the University of Copenhagen. “Then we realized that it could actually be used. First, we identified the gaps in conventional medicines. Second, we pinpointed the unique possibilities of inkjet printing technology that can be used in the production of medicine. And, as the world is now driven by digital devices and interconnected through the Internet of Things, we used our creativity and knowledge to combine all the factors and came up with the idea of the edible QR code”.

The team uses ink-containing active pharmaceutical ingredients, which are placed on an edible “paper” in the form of a QR code using inkjet printing. The QR code is resized to produce the right dose, and contains a host of relevant information – which can include the patient name, the dose, manufacturing information and expiration dates, and more. “On average, it takes around 4 to 7 minutes to print therapeutically relevant doses with the advanced printer we used in this study,” adds Magnus Edinger, a PhD fellow who worked on the project.

Genina says the system has the potential to tackle counterfeit medicines and medication errors. “Current medicines are mostly in the form of plain white tablets with few, if any, distinguishing characteristics. This can potentially allow counterfeits to enter the supply chain. Incorporation of QR codes as anti-counterfeiting features can help minimize the risk of getting a fake medicine. The encoded information will also ensure that the patient takes the right medication at the right time and in the right way. For example, an alarm can be encoded into a mobile phone, reminding the patient to scan and administer the QR code dose,” explains Genina.

Genina and her team believe the technology is ready for implementation, but it will be difficult to predict when it may hit the market. She adds, “We are now studying the following scenarios: manufacturing of patient-oriented medicine at the pharmacy, in the pharmaceutical industry, and even in the patients’ home.”

Enjoy our FREE content!

Log in or register to read this article in full and gain access to The Medicine Maker’s entire content archive. It’s FREE and always will be!

Login if you already created an account

Or register now - it’s free and always will be!

You will benefit from:

  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Medicine Maker magazine

Or Login as a Guest or via Social Media

About the Author

Roisin McGuigan

I have an extensive academic background in the life sciences, having studied forensic biology and human medical genetics in my time at Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities. My research, data presentation and bioinformatics skills plus my ‘wet lab’ experience have been a superb grounding for my role as a Deputy Editor at Texere Publishing. The job allows me to utilize my hard-learned academic skills and experience in my current position within an exciting and contemporary publishing company.


Send me the latest from The Medicine Maker.

Sign up now

Related Articles

Discovery & Development

Skin Deep Problems

| Maryam Mahdi


Strokes of Genius: The Innovation Awards 2018

| Stephanie Sutton


The Revolution Rises

| Frank Cordes

Most Popular

Register here

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:

  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Medicine Maker magazine


December Issue of The Medicine Maker