Three years ago, the World Health Organization estimated that as many as one in four pharmaceutical drugs sold in the developing world were counterfeit.
Georgia Institute of Technology chemistry professor Pacundo Fernández contributes hardware and expertise to fighting the problem. His main focus is counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs, especially in poorer countries, where government regulation is weak. He is part of an informal group of researchers and government officials spanning Africa, Asia and the United States who have teamed up with Interpol, the international police agency, to use cutting-edge technology in tracking fake drugs that claim to treat malaria. Counterfeit malaria drugs are of particular concern because of the scale and severity of the disease - it kills more than 2,000 children a day in Africa alone - and fears that fake or substandard malaria drugs are aggravating a growing problem of drug resistance.
Fernández presented a paper at the SPIE Scanning Microscopy conference in Monterey, California, in May.
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