Screening for Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit drugs are a worldwide problem – detrimental in three major ways:

  • Patients don’t receive the correct drug, leading to injury and/or death
  • Patients receive contaminated versions of the correct drug, which may be toxic
  • Pharmaceutical companies lose billions of dollars in revenue

Visual inspection, especially of drug packaging, and traceability through package identification such as bar codes, are the most common ways of dealing with potential counterfeiting. However, counterfeit packaging is often very close to the original, even down to the identification codes. With an NIR spectrometer, such as the SM-3500, it’s possible to identify the authenticity of a drug even in its packaging, including bottles and blisterpacks.

An NIR spectrometer can help combat counterfeit drugs by allowing identification and authentication using spectral matching by:

  • Taking sample spectra of authentic drugs to form a known reference
  • Checking target drugs against those spectra for confirmation

The portability of a NIR spectrometer like the SM-3500 makes it well-suited to this type of application, since identification can be performed in the field at:

  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Warehouses
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Government agency field operations

Counterfeit drug applications can include:

  • Identification of samples with minimal or no preparation
  • Rapid analysis, as quickly as 1 second per tablet
  • Non-destructive – perform analysis with the drug still in its packaging
  • Gain information on structural and chemical characteristics
  • Spectral match authenticates drugs
  • Portability for field use anywhere
  • Screen for antimalarial drugs in developing countries
  • Identify criminal and substandard counterfeits
  • Apply to a wide range of drug types, including antibiotics, hormones, steroids, analgesics, and more
  • Chemometric analysis of samples provides in-depth information, including API (active ingredients) concentrations
  • Also analyze for excipients (non-active ingredients)
  • Usable with physical/chemical identifiers/markers in genuine drugs
  • Potential use as a field tool by non-scientific personnel

SM-3500 Spectrometer

The SM-3500 provides field, portable measurement and analysis across the full UV/VIS/NIR spectral range from 350-2500nm. It provides the technology to screen and authenticate drugs without removing them from their packaging.