Written by Frank Khumalo
The Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF), a charitable initiative, has donated ten compact mobile laboratories to the Angolan Ministry of Health. The so-called Minilabs can be used to identify inferior and counterfeit medicines rapidly and reliably. They will be the first Minilabs ever in the country.
“Counterfeit medicines are a serious threat to health care in many countries, here in Angola as well,” said Minister of Health of Angola, José Vieira Dias Van-Dúnem.
“Therefore, the Minilabs will make a valuable contribution to quality control of medicines.” Sacher added:
“With the Minilabs, we are directly protecting people from what can be a deadly risk. In addition, we are helping to improve the structures for drug monitoring and ensuring that scarce resources are not wasted on worthless, and even hazardous, medicines.”
Frank Gotthardt, Chairman of the GPHF and Head of Public Affairs at Merck, said many counterfeit medicines have no therapeutic benefit or sometimes even contain harmful substances. The GPHF Minilabs are globally unique in their ability to detect such counterfeits quickly, cost-effectively and reliably.
The International Criminal Police Organization Interpol estimates that 10% to 30% of all medicines in Africa are counterfeit or of inferior quality.
The GPHF has specifically developed the Minilab for use in regions with a simple infrastructure. The rapid analyses do not rely on external power sources and normal drinking water suffices for the experiments.
So far, the GHPF has donated the Minilabs it developed to more than 80 countries or delivered them at cost; approximately half of the 500 compact labs are being used in African countries.
A Minilab consists of two portable and tropic-resistant suitcases and provides a large number of test methods for checking medicines for external abnormalities, identity and content.
Currently, 58 active pharmaceutical ingredients can be tested, particularly those in medicines commonly used against infectious diseases.
The test methods include those for common antibiotics, anthelmintics, virostatics, anti-malarial medicines, tuberculostatics and other medicines.
GPHF is also developing new test methods to be able to check even more medicines. In addition, it offers training to ensure that the users are familiar with the test methods.