PharmaCheck: Counterfeit and Substandard Drug Detector Device for the Developing World
Malaria affects over 50% of the populace in sub-Saharan Africa, and contributes to over 200,000 newborn and 10,000 maternal deaths annually worldwide. In 2008, maternal sepsis accounted for 36,000 deaths while neonatal infection caused close to a million neonatal deaths. It is estimated that between 10-30% of drug sales are counterfeit in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America - and between 30-50% of all anti-malarials are substandard. The primary objective of this project is to develop a device to screen for substandard anti-malarials and antibiotics, thereby improving adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes with respect to malaria and sepsis. To date, there is no device to test counterfeit and substandard drugs in the field thoroughly. To this end, we propose PharmaCheck, a user-friendly, cost-effective, contextual and high-throughput device capable of quantitatively measuring active ingredient concentration and drug release profiles to quickly and accurately screen for spurious medicines. Existing methods of counterfeit drug detection are bulky, qualitative, error-prone and do not take time-based measurements of drug release kinetics, and thus do not provide information about whether therapeutic levels of the drug are reached and sustained. PharmaCheck addresses these shortcomings through affordable fluorescence, dissolution testing, which allows for highly specific and quantitative time-course measurements of drug release. PharmaCheck will offer an affordable, effective tool for local health authorities to better safeguard the efficacy of their pharmacopeia and significantly impact maternal and neonatal health outcomes in the developing world.