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Researchers Develop New Approach To Detect Counterfeit Medicines

Update Date: May 21, 2014 04:51 AM EDT

Researchers have reportedly developed an improved chemical analysis method that is more efficient and faster in detecting counterfeit medicines, e.g., Viagra. 

The newly developed approach by researchers at University of Montreal identifies and quantifies the various compounds present in a pharmaceutical product in fifth of the time it takes governmental services to do the same job. 

"Fake drugs are a scourge for public health," said lead researcher Philippe Lebel, of university's Department of Chemistry, in the press release. 

Once a simple artisanal activity, counterfeiting has become a global industry linked to organized crime and the mafia, the release added.

"According to the World Health Organization, worldwide sales of counterfeit medicines reached $75 billion in 2010. Sildenafil citrate, better known by its trade name, Viagra, and the two other erectile dysfunction drugs, Cialis and Levitra, are among the most counterfeited drugs in the world."

Researchers added that men who suffer from erectile problems are shy talking about it with their doctors in person. 

"On the Internet, they don't have to consult a professional or have embarrassing conversations," researchers added. "It also costs much less: $1 per tablet compared to $15 for the real deal."

According to the press release, four years ago in Singapore, 150 patients were hospitalized with severe hypoglycemia caused by a sudden drop in blood sugar. Four died and seven suffered brain damage. They had taken counterfeit erection-inducing drugs that contained glyburide, a drug to treat diabetes.

To deal with such potential dangers, researchers decided to unite their efforts to improve the existing detection systems. 

"Our approach does not only target a medication's active ingredient," said researchers. "Rather, using a scanning technique, it also detects non-targeted compounds, some of them new synthetic analogs of the active ingredient. This is the originality of the method."

Researchers published their research in the Journal of Chromatography. 

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