Muriel Mcclendon (Chicago State University), Sarah Bliese (Hamline College), and Albert Vargas (UND) spent two weeks in Eldoret and Nairobi as part of the Analytical Chemistry REU program. Muriel worked on a quantitative paper test card for antibiotics and gave a presentation at Eldoret University, Sarah helped repair an HPLC and performed system suitability testing for amoxycillin analysis, and Albert worked on a test card for air pollutants and generally helped out.…
A global problem
Many of the pharmaceuticals that are purchased in the developing world are substandard or outright fake drugs. Although there is no global system for monitoring the quality of medicine, study after study reveals pervasive poor quality and products that are worthless or even harmful to patients. 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.
Deliberate falsification by manufacturers or distributors
- Fortune Magazine has a great investigatory report on Ranbaxy's contribution to this area.
- Even secure supply chains fall victim; see this WHO report on Semler Research faking bioequivalence studies.
New ways to find fake medicines
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.
Partnering with regulatory agencies
By sharing our results directly with medical regulatory agencies, we help them quickly discover poor quality medicines in their markets. This enables them to negotiate with manufacturers and distributors from a position of knowledge and to take other regulatory and legal actions to protect patients from poor quality products.
Bringing market forces to bear
In the developing world, 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.
Congratulations to the VeriPAD team, which won the $25,000 social impact prize at CUNY's Zahn Innovation Center Business Plan competition. This team took the 12-lane PAD and developed a mobile phone application to help interpret the PAD results. Da Wi Shin and Bishoy Ghopal will participate in the Zahn Center's summer accelerator…