Detecting Fake Drugs with Spectrophotometers

Counterfeit medicine may be contaminated, contain the wrong or no active ingredient, or have the right active ingredient at the wrong dose, and cause serious injury or some cases death. It also can affect manufactures with bad press when someone gets sick or dies and robs them of revenue. Many Nations take counterfeiting of medication seriously, Governments are working with their internal agencies, the manufactures, and other states to help protect us from threat of counterfeits.

Spectrophotometers are key in the fight against counterfeit medications. Spectrophotometers analyze the color and appearance of objects. There are different types of spectrophotometers, ranging from handheld, for example the CM-700d, for field and production line use, to bench devices, such as the CM-5, often found in labs for quality control and research use.

Pharmaceutical companies carefully document the colors of their specific compounds for quality control, and for patent and trademark reasons. The chemical makeup and compounding techniques used to create a medication influences its color, allowing pharmaceutical companies to build color profiles for each of their products. Pharmaceutical manufactures use spectrophotometers in production to formulate and control the color of the final product.

These counterfeit medications are often comprised of substandard or event toxic chemicals resembling legitimate medications. Legitimate sounding companies then sell them to end users via the internet. Many underground organizations manufacture counterfeit medications and use airports, seaports, and roadways to ship to distribution points. With the availability of high precision bench-top and portable spectrophotometers in major ports and government vehicles, agents can measure the color against provided samples to identify counterfeit medications preventing many of these drugs from entering circulation. Mobile drug testing labs are helpful when identifying an illegal drug manufacturing facility. These mobile labs quickly analyze the color and reflectance patterns of any confiscated materials using a spectrophotometer and compare the resulting data against the pharmaceutical company’s product profile.

Governments and manufactures, around the world use these high performance instruments to identify illegal medications, preventing further illness or even death to the end consumers.

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