Tuesday, February 21, 2017
How to detect fake malaria drugs.
A new device that uses similar infrared light to TV remotes can accurately detect fake antimalarial drugs, according to a scientific paper published on Monday. The researchers revealed how they were able to use an optical scanner purchased online for $250 to distinguish perfectly between life-saving malaria drugs and deadly counterfeits. Dozens of public health scientists declared in 2015 that a global crisis of fake drugs was undermining the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, particularly in the developing world. The World Health Organization estimates that falsified medicines represent more than 50% of the pharmaceutical market in several African countries. Ineffective antimalarial drugs alone killed over 120,000 preschool children in Africa in 2013, according to research from the Center for Disease Dynamics. Wilson’s team, together with researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), set out to design an easy-to-use, portable scanner that almost any charity or rural pharmacy could afford. Many fake drugs are almost indistinguishable from the genuine products, even down to convincing anti-counterfeiting holograms on their packaging. Testing the drugs currently requires laboratory tests with machines costing many thousands of dollars, operated by skilled technicians. continue