PharmaChk: Substandard and Counterfeit Medicines Rapid Detection and Screening Platform

Trustees of Boston University
Organization Location: 
Boston, MA, USA

Substandard medicines account for approximately $75B of a $962B global pharmaceutical market and over 100,000 preventable deaths annually leading to tremendous financial loss and emergence of long-term drug resistance. Estimates indicate that 30-50% of all antimalarials are substandard. Additionally, while oxytocin has demonstrated high efficacy in saving lives of at-risk mothers, it routinely fails quality tests. Production and sale of substandard drugs are indicators of a compromised health system that greatly undermine health programs. In absence of proper storage, drugs that initially pass quality testing often deteriorate before the point of sale. The primary objective of this project is to develop a platform that comprehensively screens for substandard medicines, expand implementation from a central testing facility to regional and community health centers and create demand through stakeholder education workshops. This project is expected to impact quality of MCH medicines on the market. Existing methods of substandard drug detection are bulky, require technical expertise, time-consuming, qualitative, error-prone and do not measure drug release kinetics. In response, through previous SLAB seed funding, PharmaChk has been developed to be a user-friendly, accurate, and high-throughput device capable of quantitatively measuring active ingredient concentration and drug dissolution to quickly screen for spurious medicines. PharmaChk addresses existing shortcomings through quantitative, affordable luminescence and dissolution testing, allowing for highly specific measurements of drug release. Target customers include regulatory authorities and stakeholders along the pharmaceutical supply chain from manufacturers to distributors. PharmaChk offers an affordable, effective tool for local health authorities to safeguard the efficacy of their pharmacopeia.

See video