Scientists develop Drug Detection Technology (Sept. 08, 2009) — Researchers at University of Leicester have combined crime research and space-age technology in ways that could lead to the quick detection of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in a black market.

brandProfessor George Fraser and Professor Martin Gill have combined their expertise of space physics and crime and security so that their Spectral ID project has been shortlisted for a Lord Stafford Award in the Innovation in Development category.

They identified the need for a system that could identify quickly a counterfeit drug product in the field.

They discovered a simple low cost solution that doesn’t require special measures being taken by the manufacturer.

The use of counterfeit drugs can have serious implications for patients including loss of life. Manufacturers are also acutely aware of the negative impact a counterfeiter can have on its brand.

The technique relies on detecting the differences between the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging.

The unique light source incorporated within the system and the selection of the critical points on the packaging at which the tests are conducted provides a degree of randomness that is not known to the counterfeiter and restricts the ability to be replicated.

The technology has been developed from a spectrograph originally designed by the Space Research Centre for astronomical research and trials so far have resulted in a 100% success rate in identifying counterfeit products where the differences could not be detected by the untrained naked eye.

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