Interview with Tom Bradbury: Aprecia

Tom Bradbury is Vice President of Development Engineering at Aprecia Pharmaceuticals focusing on process and equipment development for Aprecia’s version of binder-jetting three-dimensional printing technology.  His 14 years at Aprecia combined with his prior experience at Therics gives him more than 25 years of industry experience with scaling and commercializing 3DP.  Tom holds MS & BS degrees in Computer Science from LaSalle University and University of Delaware, respectively. Tom just spoke at 3DHEALS conference: 3D Printing for Medication recently.

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?

Tom: I was in my second tour of duty with Johnson and Johnson in a consulting role back in 1998.  An opportunity came my way with this interesting start-up company called Therics that was working on three-dimensional printing.  I knew little of 3DP at the time but quickly became enamored with the fundamental tech and its value in solving many challenges in medical devices, pharma, and tissue engineering.

Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey/company in 3D printing?

Tom: As mentioned above it was early in the evolution of 3DP when a job opportunity came my way.  It was the excitement of working on a new technology with endless potential that drew me to 3DP.

Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing?

Tom: I got into 3DP without knowing anyone involved.  But I’ll mention two people that have been influential.  I’ll give Dr. Ely Sachs props for his early inventive work at MIT laying the foundation for binder jet 3DP for both Therics and Aprecia.  I have worked with many talented people at both of those companies but will highlight Dr. Jae Yoo is someone I’ve learned from considerably working both with and for him over many years.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Tom: Evolving 3DP technology in the pharma space truly does provide the opportunity to deliver new products that help improve people’s lives.

Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions? 

Tom: With 3DP in the pharma industry, achieving scale of manufacturing while meeting FDA regulatory requirements were both major hurdles we had to overcome.  Aprecia addressed these with the launch of Spritam™.  Aprecia continues to tackle the challenges that come with the cost pressures provided by pharma and the ability to produce sufficient products across a range of different scales at a price that enables greater adoption for both prescription and OTC.  To that end both of those challenges will be addressed anew on a case by case, drug by drug basis.

Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Tom: Aprecia has demonstrated that FDA regulatory requirements can be successfully met when running 3DP in a traditional batch manufacturing mode.  Aprecia’s 3DP processes continue to become more efficient and versatile to enable more business cases for more drugs.  This is critical to driving wider industry adoption of the technology.  If envisioning 3DP pharma delivery in a more customized, personalized mode there will be some unique regulatory, quality, safety, and supply chain challenges that will need to be tackled.

Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be? 

Tom: Pass … Punt … Plead the 5th

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore? 

Tom: Embrace whatever technical aspect of 3DP that gives you passion.  But do yourself a favor and also get some exposure to both materials and business topics such as supply chain.  Challenges with additive manufacturing will come in many flavors and not all of them will be technical.

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