Medicines are life saving entities which are essential for providing proper care and benefits for the patients. In the current scenario, substandard, degraded or counterfeit medications cause a serious problem resulting in potential harm to its users by depriving the required medical treatment.
Some of the commonly used antibiotic drugs like ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone for the treatment of infections have been listed in the essential medicines list by the World Health Organization (WHO). These drugs however lack proper equipments in developing countries for testing its quality.
Scientist have now discovered a new paper based test which seems to be simple and inexpensive to identify spurious and substandard drugs.
Lieberman along with Sarah Bliese from Hamline University in US developed a card to detect poor quality drugs.
"Instead of a $30,000 instrument, we have developed a $1 paper card. We designed the card so it would be as easy and inexpensive to use as possible," said Lieberman.
12 lanes separated by wax barriers on the paper device was used to identify the harmful drugs. Each lane was coated with specific reagent to detect the specific functional group or active pharmaceutical ingredient.
The sample pill was crushed into powder and rubbed across the 12 lanes. The bottom of the paper card is now dipped into water for three minutes. The water allows the powdered sample to mix with the reagents and produces color. This color is compared with the color pattern produced by the high quality pharmaceutical products. This comparison can be done using image analysis in smartphone or through the normal eye.
Being sensitive to heat, ceftriaxone will breakdown at high temperatures. The researchers carried the experiment by subjecting ceftriaxone to high temperature and ran the card test. The degradation products were analysed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
The degraded product showed a different colourimetric pattern when compared to that of a correctly stored product.
This test mainly helps to track down the ineffective and unsafe drugs that is currently available in the market.