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NIR Spectroscopy and ItsUse in CombatingCounterfeit Medicine

by georgemelcher

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The pharmaceutical industry, along with agencies from around the world, constantly seeks solutions to the increasing threat of pharmaceutical counterfeiting. Estimates are that around 15% of medicines circulating worldwide are counterfeit; with the proportion expected to increase over the years. Several technologies have been developed to detect counterfeit drugs rapidly and effectively.

Near infrared (NIR technology) is one such enabling technology. NIR spectroscopy is a rapid, non-contact and non-destructive method that can be used to analyze and identify the spectral signatures of many kinds of pharmaceutical products. The non-invasive nature of this technology makes it possible to analyze a drug easily through the packaging. The beam can penetrate bottles or blister packs, and even the shells of encapsulated drug products.

In recent years, portable NIR spectrometers have made detecting counterfeit drugs in the field much easier. These portable spectrometers bring the laboratory closer to places where spot detection of counterfeit products is necessary. These include unscrupulous or dubious pharmacies, hospitals, and manufacturing and storage facilities.

Proper identification of spectral signatures using near infrared transmission is increasingly becoming a necessary and relevant task as counterfeit pharmaceutical products are becoming more difficult to detect. Counterfeits are designed to mimic the original product, but they generally contain a reduced amount, or none at all, of the active ingredient. Many of these counterfeit drugs are impossible to distinguish through conventional means of on-site inspection.

Portable NIR devices are relatively easy to use; and require minimum user training. Once spectral signatures have been established, validated, and stored in a portable NIR spectrometer system, suspect products can be tested in minutes. Potentially, NIR spectrometers can even be used as screening tools in the field by non-scientific personnel.

Counterfeit drugs are a legitimate threat when they infiltrate the pharmaceutical supply chain. They may contain the wrong dose of active ingredient, or worse, they can contain the wrong ingredient, or no active ingredient altogether. They may also be contaminated, which creates even worse health problems. Health agencies worldwide take the problem of counterfeit medicine seriously; with NIR spectrometers offering an excellent solution to protect the world’s drug supply from the threat of counterfeits. You can read more on NIR spectroscopy from

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