Funding positions drug potency checker for field tests

Muhammad ZumanA US Pharmacopeia (USP) backed device for checking drug potency is to begin fields tests after securing cash from a consortium of charities and governments.

The device, called PharmaCheck, was developed at Boston University in a project aimed at cutting the cost of checking whether a drug is counterfeit or substandard. After securing $250,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others PharmaCheck is now readying for field tests.

“The final number of the devices [to be deployed] and the cost are being determined as we speak, but it will be extremely affordable, where each test will cost only a few cents at most,” Muhammad Zaman (pictured), an associate professor at Boston University, said.

Zaman is developing the shoebox-sized device with support from the USP and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The device works by scanning pills with fluorescence and imaging to determine concentrations and other characteristics.

"One of the most exciting elements is the ability to potentially deploy this technology at point-of-use, with an ultimate vision of healthcare facilities, clinics and hospitals using the technology to verify the quality of the medicines they receive," commented USAID's Anthony Boni.

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