FDA Counterfeit Device Detector Targets Fake Malaria Drugs

FDA Counterfeit Device Detector Targets Fake Malaria Drugs

April 25th, 2013 // 4:15 pm @

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A new, portable device designed by FDA is going to be a new, powerful weapon for efforts to wipe out malaria around the world. In a few years, it is possible that the new device will be able to easily detect worthless counterfeit drugs that are bought by unsuspecting consumers to fight cancer, viral infections and heart disease.

But first, the new device is going to be used in the fight against malaria.

Malaria affects 200 million people every year. It kills 600,000 per year, and many of those are young children. Nations around the world are hard at work at ending the scourge of malaria. One of the problems in wiping out this public health nuisance is that FDA and other global health agencies have to fight the glut of fake or counterfeit anti-malaria drugs.

At this time, experts say that about 1/3 of the drugs to combat malaria in Africa and Asia are fake or not up to standards. These drugs do not give people the type of treatment to save their lives. And the fake drugs can actually make the malaria strain more resistant to real drugs.

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In recent months, FDA has come up with a portable tool that helps the agency to figure out in the field which drugs are fake and which are real. The tool is called the Counterfeit Device Detector CD-3. The tool is going to be used in Ghana in 2013 and 2014. Another testing program is going to be started in another country as well.

This tool has been worked on by FDA since 2005, when a scientist in the Forensic Chemistry Center started to study using UV light rays to pinpoint fake drugs.

Before 2005, any techniques used to find counterfeit drugs meant you had to have expensive laboratory equipment and very highly trained scientists to do the work. The idea was to come up with a handheld device that was very portable and inexpensive.

The CD-3 uses several wavelengths, such as infrared rays, on the drug, and includes a monitor, a camera and ability to store data. The device uses these special light waves to tell real drugs from fake. It is made so that it can look at real and fake malaria drugs side by side and to compare them to tell which has real, disease fighting agents and which is worthless.

The first deployment of CD-3 in the African nation of Ghana will be in five sites a several towns. FDA will give the tools and the training that is needed. Technical expertise will be given by the CDC and NIH.

If the CD-3 is found to be effective, they may be able to be mass produced at low cost, and could really put a dent in the counterfeit drug business around the globe.

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