The proportion of counterfeit medicines has dramatically increased in the last few years. According to numerous official sources, for some pharmaceutical wholesalers in African countries, the proportion has reached 80%. The fight against this calamity is complex and different levels of action are necessary. The safety of the supply chain must be improved (e.g. by carefully selecting the providers), the design of the drugs can contain anticounterfeiting techniques (e.g. serialization, hologram), and quality control of batches imported into the different countries can be implemented. Unfortunately, this latter strategy is often difficult to apply due to a lack of suitable analytical equipment in developing countries.
The College of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (EIA-FR), member of the University of Applied Sciences (Western Switzerland), has therefore decided to collaborate with the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Geneva / University of Lausanne (Switzerland), in order to build a low-cost analytical device, namely capillary electrophoresis (CE), with the aim of using it for educational purposes and helping developing and transitional countries to fight against counterfeit medicines.
The new CE device is dedicated to conventional quality control of drug material (active principal ingredient, API) and drug products (pharmaceutical formulations). CE should be successful in routine analyses due to its short analysis time and method development, simple instrumentation, low sample and solvent consumption as well as to reduced operating costs. Therefore, CE is perfectly adapted to rapidly evaluate the quality of drugs, to establish the presence and the concentration of the active principles and to give evidence regarding the amount of degradation impurities.