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Over 25% of Emergency Contraceptives are Fake or Substandard in Peru

Update Date: Apr 19, 2014 10:39 AM EDT

According to a new survey conducted in Peru, researchers discovered that a little over a quarter of the emergency contraceptives are either fake or substandard in terms of quality. The researchers identified products that were made with the wrong active ingredient, with an active ingredient that released the ingredient too slowly and without any active ingredient at all. These findings reveal one of the many health concerns women from developing countries face.

"A woman who does not want to get pregnant and takes these emergency contraceptives will get pregnant," said Facundo M. Fernández, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, reported by Medical Xpress.

For this study, the researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology tested emergency contraceptives that were suspected of being falsified. The batches were sourced from 15 pharmacies and distributors throughout the city of Lima. The team used mass spectrometry to identify the chemical composition of these drugs. They studied a total of 25 batches and found that seven of them were made with a slow-releasing active ingredient. One batch of the drugs was made without any active ingredient at all.

"We detected that the active ingredient was not there in one batch, instead those samples had a drug called sulfamethoxazole. It's a very common antibiotic. It can cause serious adverse reactions in some patients," Fernandez said. "Many fakes are very sophisticated. They have the right active ingredient and they may even have the right amount, but the excipients or coatings may not be the right ones."

The study, "A Tiered Analytical Approach for Investigating Poor Quality Emergency Contraceptives," was published in PLOS ONE.

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