Fake or low-quality medicines and food supplements are an ongoing global problem in underdeveloped nations, although technology-savvy places, such as the United States, are also not immune. A researcher at Case Western Reserve University is developing a low-cost, portable prototype designed to detect tainted medicines and food supplements that otherwise can make their way to consumers. The technology can authenticate good medicines and supplements.
Soumyajit Mandal demonstrating the prototype to detect tainted medicines and food supplements “There is a big problem with counterfeit and substandard medicines in poorer countries, particularly in Africa and Asia,” said Soumyajit Mandal, assistant professor in the Department Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the Case School of Engineering. “In the U.S., the biggest problem is with various dietary supplements.”
Mandal and his collaborators are developing a small, box-like detector that has been preliminary tested in field trials.“The work builds on—and improves—a related project introduced in Europe a few years ago to create a portable, low-cost detector for medicines,” he said.
Mandal said the detector he and his colleagues are developing is much more flexible (capable of analyzing a wide variety of medicines and dietary supplements), and more sensitive (capable of measuring smaller quantities).
Mandal is the principal investigator of the research and co-author of an associated paper to be published in IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Research participants are Professor Swarup Bhunia at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, Fla., and Research Fellow Jamie Barras and Professor Kaspar Althoefer, both at King’s College London.
“Current results are very promising and have advantages over competing methods,” Mandal said. “The required instrumentation is simple and low-cost, compared to other analytical techniques, such as optical spectroscopy.”