PharmaCheck, a portable tool designed to detect poor-quality medicines, has been selected by Scientific American as one of the magazine’s World Changing Ideas of 2013. The device was developed by researchers from Boston University (BU) in collaboration with the Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) program of the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).
BU and USP scientists have spent the last two years honing the technology behind PharmaCheck into an inexpensive, portable tool capable of assessing active ingredients in medicines.
PharmaCheck uses a fluorescent probe tailored to bind to an active ingredient in a specific drug and a silicon-polymer testing chip that detects the amount of light the probe emits. Software translates that light reading into an estimate of active ingredient concentration. Monitoring that signal over time indicates the ingredient’s dissolution. Within minutes, a doctor, regulatory official or health worker can have critical insight about the quality of a medicine sample.
Since 2009, USP has been providing technical assistance to regulatory, quality control and health care personnel in developing countries via PQM as a central strategy in the fight against substandard and counterfeit medicines
In early 2014, BU researcher Muhammad Zaman, developer of the technology, will conduct field tests on PharmaCheck through USP’s Center for Pharmaceutical Advancement and Training (CePAT) in Accra, Ghana. The field tests will include probes for an antimalarial and an antibiotic drug.
Source: US Pharmacopeial Convention