Fake, substandard and poor quality medicines lead to nearly half a million deaths annually and cost upwards of 15 billion dollars. Low income countries are unable to safeguard their pharmacopeia, and hence these poor quality medicines lead to loss of life, create morbidity and long-term drug resistance. Our technology, PharmaChk, aims to test drug quality affordably, easily and at all points in the supply chain, therefore protecting investment, consumers and health of all.
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About This Innovation
What phase of development is your innovation currently in?:
We have demonstrated early success and have piloted it already in several locations in Africa and Asia. Now we are extending this effort beyond our initial pilot stage and scaling it in multiple countries.
How does your innovation work?
The technology is a portable suitcase and is based on optical engineering and microfluidic chemistry. Our research team has developed specific probes that combine with the drug in question and provide quantitative information on how pure the drug is, and how it will function. These molecules, developed and optimized by our lab, form the basis of the technology. From a functional perspective, the technology, called PharmaChk, is a small suitcase (~10-12 lbs) which is fully functional, portable and self-consistent. The user just needs to select the drug that he/ she wants to test, add it to the specific chamber and use a touch screen to run the test. There is minimal sample preparation and in a matter of 10-15 minutes the entire test is run. This is significantly simpler, shorter and more accurate than existing methods. The data collection part is automated and the user does not have to record anything which is stored electronically. The system works with minimal power and can be used with batteries as well. Overall, the cost of the system is significantly less than existing systems (~1000 dollars versus 100,000 or more for other systems) and the time to train and run the test is significantly shorter (10-15 minutes versus multiple hours and weeks of training).
What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?
On average, nearly half a million people die due to substandard and counterfeit medicines every year and millions more are affected and at risk with the rise of anti-microbial resistance.
Our short, medium and long-term needs are in-country partners who will help us scale the technology, make it accessible to the stakeholders (government labs, hospitals, pharmacies etc). Second, awareness among consumers continues to be a challenge and one of our goals is to ensure that we create a demand for not only access to medicines but also access to quality medicines. In this case, local support to create this demand for quality is critical. Finally, we are looking for investors and support groups that will help us extend the capacity and capability of our technology further to reach even bigger group of people across the world.