Nicholas Myers wins 2015 Pacifichem Poster Award

Author: Marya Lieberman

Nick presented his work about development of a paper test card for detection of substandard antibiotics in the Analytical Chemistry section of Pacifichem.  The poster authors include Nicholas M. Myers, Jamie Luther, Doa’a Aldulaimi, and Marya Lieberman.  3645 poster abstracts were submitted for Pacifichem 2015, 350 were nominated for the poster competition, and 54 of those won.  Congratulations to Nick for his excellent work and ability to WOW the judges! 


Figure 1:  Top row:  standard samples of amoxycillin. Bottom row:  amoxicillin capsules collected in Kenya in 2014. The antibiotic prevents dots on the card from turning blue.  If the pill does not have enough antibiotic, more than six dots will turn blue.  The test results were checked using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Finding low-quality pharmaceuticals in the developing world can be challenging because assaying finished pharmaceutical pills usually requires a sophisticated analysis in a lab setting. We performed HPLC analysis on pills containing amoxicillin, clavulanic acid, and ampicillin which were collected in Kenya. About 20% (n = 90) did not meet regulatory specifications, and the pills that failed analysis spanned the entire range of 0-150% of the labeled active ingredient. Having a portable and inexpensive paper-based test card that can analyze beta-lactam antibiotics over this range could help monitoring agencies perform market surveys or even empower manufacturers to do more quality control testing.

The United States Pharmacopeia <425> describes the use of an iodometric back-titration to quantify amoxicillin and ampicillin. The back-titration was translated onto a paper test card.  The titration reagents, which are mutually incompatible, could be stored separately and recombined through surface-tension enabled mixing.  The test cards can distinguish levels of amoxicillin that differ by 0.05mg/mL over a range of 0.85-1.15mg/mL. For example, a pill containing 85% of the labeled amount of antibiotic (substandard) can be distinguished from a pill containing 90% (good quality).   This new test card will be trialed in Kenya in early January to see how well it works in the field