Fighting the Fakes with the VideometerLab

Substandard, falsified and counterfeit medicines is a growing global problem. In 2016 counterfeit products were found in over 150 countries. However, by partnering with law enforcement, Pfizer has prevented nearly 241 million counterfeit doses from reaching patients since 2004.

Using expert technologies including the VideometerLab Multispectral Imaging Analyser, Pfizer anti-counterfeiting laboratories detect the counterfeit medicines and help identify the manufacturers and distributors of these illicit products. The number of counterfeit medicines is rising around the world, they are often not produced in safe manufacturing conditions and are unregulated; therefore  impossible to know what ingredients the counterfeit medicines contain, with potentially dangerous consequences.

Identifying the counterfeits with the Videometerlab

Investigators start with a visual inspection as the most obvious counterfeits are often apparent from their packaging (spelling errors, incorrect colours etc.), as well as colour of the drug or other physical properties. Once a basic visible assessment is complete Pfizer’s inspectors use the VideometerLab to provide the quality control which checks the colour spectrum to detect anomalies. Located at Pfizer’s Groton R&D site, the VideometerLab checks the colour spectrum in both infrared and ultraviolet – nicknamed the “disco ball” because of the light show that it creates. The VideometerLab 4 is a multispectral imaging system designed for fast and accurate determination of surface colour, texture, shape, size and chemical composition.

A counterfeiter will often strive to make a counterfeit drug look as genuine to the naked eye as possible and not necessarily look at other areas of the spectrum. Products from the same counterfeiter tend to have similar spectrums, so instruments such as the VideometerLab gives investigators a starting point to see which counterfeits may be coming from the same source.

This report is based on an article by Pfizer. Image credits: Pfizer.

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