Minilab test kit updated to cover additional antimalarials

MinilabThe Global Pharma Health Fund has extended the capabilities of its Minilab kit, used to test medicines for authenticity and quality in developing countries, to include a broader range of antimalarial medicines.

The primary aim for the revision of the kit - which uses simple tests such as thin-layer chromatography (TLC) to test the authenticity and quality of dozens of different drugs on the World Health Organization's essential medicines list - is to allow it to be used to assess combination malaria regimens based on artesunate.

Artesunate co-formulations with other antimalarial agents such as amodiaquine, mefloquine, pyronaridine, sulfadoxine and sulfamethoxypyrazine can all be analysed using the Minilab, without any changes to the kit's underlying technical platform, according to the GPHF.

"Virtually all major antimalarials are now included," notes the Merck KGaA-backed charity, with the device's current method inventory now spanning 58 active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), which are listed here.

Earlier this year, researchers reported in The Lancet Infectious Diseases that 36 per cent of antimalarial drug samples in Asia were falsified, while this was the case for around 20 per cent of samples sourced from sub-Saharan African. A third of all the medicines tested failed quality testing.

And just a few weeks ago the German Institute of Medical Mission (DIFAM) used the Minilab to discover counterfeit quinine tablets in the Democratic Republic of Congo that were erroneously labelled as having been made by Tanzanian drugmaker Shelys Pharmaceuticals. On testing the fakes were found to contain not quinine but another as-yet unidentified substance.

In another case, Minilab users found quinine tablets with no active ingredients in Africa in the summer, emphasising the importance of "regular post-marketing drug quality testing and the use of simple and affordable TLC for the detection of unsafe bogus medicines", said the GPHF.

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