Space Age Technology Used to Spot Fake Medicines

3 10 2009
Here is a news article I found in the website about fake pharmaceuticals.


Developed from a spectrograph – which measures light – originally designed for astronomical research, trials have so far had a 100 per cent success rate and the scientists behind it have been shortlisted for an award.

The project, which began in 2005, has been undertaken by Professor George Fraser and Professor Martin Gill, from the University of Leicester.

They found the need for a system that could quickly identify a counterfeit drug product in the field, rather than existing solutions involving costly laboratory testing.

Prof Fraser, director of the university’s Space Research Centre, said: ”Pharmaceutical manufacturers do not have a simple-to-use, speedy, non-destructible method of detecting counterfeits and we have the potential to offer just that.

”Feedback results from the use of our device are obtained within seconds.”

The technique relies on detecting the differences between the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging.

Dr Nigel Bannister, also from the Space Research Centre, was responsible for the Faulkes Telescope spectrometer, used to make the original tests on counterfeit goods.

The space-age technology was developed with help from University of Leicester spin-out company Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International (PRCI) for use in removing counterfeit drugs from the market.

PRCI head and former professor of Criminology at the university, Professor Martin Gill, added: ”The need to remove counterfeit drugs is greatest in the developing countries but there have been an increasing number of reports of them becoming available in the developed world.

”Other end users would include hospitals, pharmacies, ethical distributors, customs, police, security services and trading standards bodies.

”We have worked with two international companies who have provided us with counterfeit samples and a pharmaceutical association has agreed to work with us to further develop the product.

”We are receiving a very positive reaction to our approach, but we needn’t stop at counterfeit drugs – the potential to redefine the business is truly enormous.”

The project has now been shortlisted for a Lord Stafford Award in the Innovation in Development category.

The awards are designed to celebrate and recognise innovative collaborations between business and universities.

The winners of the awards, which cover Innovation Achieved, Innovation in Development, and Innovation in Sustainability, will be announced at a high-profile finale on Thursday at the Epic Centre in Lincolnshire.

Patron Lord Stafford said: ”Counterfeit drugs are a major international problem and the need to be able to quickly detect and ultimately remove them from the supply chain, particularly in the developing world, will prevent catastrophic consequences.”




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