With sale of counterfeit drugs causing major problems around the world, scientists in the United Kingdom are reporting development of a new way of identifying fake pills and capsules without opening the product package.
In a report scheduled for the March 1 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal, Pavel Matousek and Charlotte Eliasson describe the growing need for non-invasive verification of the authenticity of pharmaceutical products.
The report notes, for instance, that large quantities of counterfeit drugs have been withdrawn from the market in recent years in the United States and the U. K., with fake anti-malaria drugs causing a major crisis in eastern Asia.
Verification can be difficult, the researchers explain, because medications must be analyzed without opening the product package. Once a drug package is open, the product usually cannot be marketed.
The investigators describe development of a new form of Raman spectroscopy, a mainstay tool for identifying molecules, which can probe deep layers of material that are well beyond the reach of conventional Raman spectroscopy. The method, spatially offset Raman spectroscopy, can analyze through paper packaging, plastic containers, capsule shells, and tablet coatings to verify the ingredients in a pharmaceutical product, the researchers state.
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