PQM-supported Boston University PharmaCheck project receives grant through Saving Lives at Birth's 'Grand Challenge for Development'
A new platform for detecting substandard and counterfeit medicines using microfluidics has been recognized with a grant from Saving Lives at Birth's "Grand Challenge through Development." Dubbed PharmaCheck, the technology is a portable, field-based tool for assessing the quality of medicines in developing countries with increased accuracy, sensitivity and reliability.
Through the Challenge, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and the U.K. Department for International Development sought groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities in developing countries. Substandard and counterfeit medicines for diseases including malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS pose a dire public health threat to patients in developing countries, in particular children and pregnant women. Such medicines can exacerbate the course of these diseases, even leading to death, as well as contribute to the growth of drug-resistant disease parasites-threatening the viability of treatments for patients worldwide.
Developed by Boston University in collaboration with the Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) program, which is supported by USAID and implemented by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), PharmaCheck has reached the proof of concept stage-demonstrating a quantitation linear relationship for analysis of an antimalarial medicine of interest on a microfluidic chip. The technology addresses shortcomings of current field-based, portable quality control laboratories currently in use throughout the developing world-including the inability to precisely and accurately measure the percentage of the active pharmaceutical ingredient or other important quality attributes of medicines. These are key to determining whether a medicine is of poor quality or not. Furthermore, the technology is expected to greatly reduce the need for confirmation of field-tested results at fully equipped quality control laboratories.