from right to left: Mike Dowd, Margaret Berta, Rebecca Ryan, Rose Doerfler, Mridul Mandal, Marya Lieberman, Ivan Leung, Steven Froelich, Michelle Pillers, and Nicholas Myers. Not in the photo: Abigail Weaver, Keenan Linder, Essebai Etim, Myracle Newsome, Diana Waweru, Anton Gillespie, Ashley Berding, Valerie Goss. …
Low quality pharmaceuticals are a global problem
The World Health Organization estimates that 10-30% of the pharmaceuticals that are purchased in the developing world are substandard or outright fake drugs. Many countries in the developing world do not have the technological infrastructure or regulatory resources to keep low quality medicines off the market shelves. And since the pharmaceutical trade is a lucrative global market, low quality medicine can cross borders and harm people anywhere in the world.
We are making tools to solve this problem.
Paper analytical devices (PADs) are test cards that can quickly determine whether a drug tablet contains the correct medicines. They are cheap and easy to use. They don't require power, chemicals, solvents, or any expensive instruments, so they can be deployed rapidly at large scale whereever a problem with pharmaceutical quality is suspected.
We are leveling the playing field.
These little test cards could change the balance of power between sellers and buyers. Right now, most buyers have to trust what the seller tells them about the quality of the pharmaceuticals they purchase. Unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors know that there is little chance that their medicines will be screened in a lab. These paper test cards don't need a lab, and they will enable people all over the world to quickly detect low quality medicines and remove them from the market.
From June 2 to June 6, Marya and I had the exciting experience of attending the Micronutrient Forum which is a global conference. The focus of the conference was "Building Bridges" between scientific advances and multi-sectoral programming needs to reduce micronutrient malnutrition. We attended this conference because of our work with developing the saltPAD, a paper device that quantifies iodine in iodized salt. This work has been funded by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).