Addressing Pharmaceutical Issues
Through Microscopy: A Case Study
THE PROBLEM: A manufacturer approached MVA Scientific Consultants with the concern that a counterfeit of one of their pharmaceutical products was on the market. Counterfeits are harmful to public health, as well as to the reputation of pharmaceutical manufacturers.
THE ANALYSIS: An initial examination revealed differences in surface markings between a complaint tablet and a known control tablet. The excipients used in the coating and core were consistent with each other, but elemental analysis indicated that a key element, sulfur, was missing from the suspect sample. Further analysis confirmed that the counterfeit product did not contain the active ingredient.
THE OUTCOME: MVA’s comparison of the complaint tablet to a control tablet showed differences beyond the surface markings. In fact, the complaint tablet contained no active ingredient! The manufacturer was able to use MVA’s data as evidence to alert pharmacists and the public about the danger posed by this pharmaceutical counterfeit drug.