A New Counterfeit Problem: Anti-Malaria Drugs | BU Today | Boston UniversityPosted: July 26, 2012
A consortium of governments and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is betting Zaman will score a breakthrough. The organization, Saving Lives at Birth, recently gave him a two-year, $250,000 grant for his “PharmaCheck” device, which would scan pills with fluorescence and imaging to measure such properties as their concentration. The NIH studied 27 tests of drugs bought in Asia and Africa over almost a dozen years, beginning in 1999, and determined that a paucity of active ingredients has rendered some antimalarial drugs ineffective. According to the NIH, fully one-third of the drugs failed for that reason or because they were counterfeit or expired.
“The device will be an easy-to-use, robust system” for weeding out phony and ineffective drugs, Zaman promises. Operating on a pump, tubing, and a microchip smaller than a credit card, the shoebox-sized PharmaCheck would weigh in at less than 10 pounds. There are currently methods for testing drugs’ effectiveness, Zaman says, but they’re inadequate, expensive, or require highly trained personnel and equipment.
He says that PharmaCheck, which he’s developing with help from the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and the US Agency for International Development, would be given to governments, nongovernmental organizations, drug companies, and perhaps hospitals.