Deadly Dangerous Doses
Paul Mayer at the University of Ottawa in Canada will test whether a portable infrared (FTIR) spectrometer can detect fake or substandard medicines such as antibiotics in resource-poor settings. Many medicines are not what they claim to be on the packet, but they are bought and used particularly in developing countries with sometimes deadly consequences. The extent of this drug fraud is difficult to estimate because of the lack of methods that can quickly determine the quality of a drug at the point-of-sale without the need for sophisticated equipment. They will develop software for their portable spectrometer to identify infrared signals in pure versions of several different antibiotics, and test whether it can distinguish these from substandard versions by field testing it in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The results will be compared with quality measurements using the standard lab-based mass spectrometry techniques.