Fighting the Public Health Threat of Counterfeit Drugs

Fake pharmaceuticals are a multi-billion dollar problem around the world, and especially problematic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lives are truly at stake when counterfeiters sell fake drugs or include lower quantities of substances like antibiotics.

PBS Newshour highlighted AMPATH’s innovative efforts to stop this scourge by working to implement the paper analytical device or PAD, an easy to use testing tool for pharmaceuticals that was developed by chemists at the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Mercy Maina of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital was interviewed for the story which aired in December.  

In an ongoing partnership between Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Purdue University, and Notre Dame, researchers buy medicines and then use the paper strip to test them. Pharmaceuticals can be spread on the PAD which is then dipped in water, and color changes show whether the correct drug is present. At a cost of just 50 cents per PAD, a clinic can test the medicines that patients are buying, and pharmacists can check that suppliers have given them the right drugs.

The collaboration is part of AMPATH’s ongoing work to provide access to high quality pharmacy services throughout Western Kenya. Since 2003, Purdue University College of Pharmacy has been providing pharmaceutical care and training through AMPATH.