Merck, a leading science and technology company, has donated a mobile compact laboratory to the Health Ministry in the capital city of Gaborone. This is to help detect counterfeit medicines through the Global Pharma Health Fund, a charitable initiative funded by Merck. This Minilab can be used to identify counterfeit medicines rapidly and reliably.
Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck, met with the Minister of Health in Botswana, Honorable Dorcas Makgato-Malesu in Gaborone. The Minilab is worth around 45,254 Botswanan Pulas (approx. € 4,000).
“Counterfeit medicines pose a serious threat to public health globally, here in Botswana as well,” said Makgato-Malesu.
According to the International Police Organization Interpol estimates that up to 30% of all medicines in Africa are either counterfeit or of inferior quality.
Beckmann explained: “The mobile compact laboratories are globally unique for their ability to detect counterfeits quickly, cost-efficiently and reliably. With them, one can relieve bottlenecks in quality control for medicines, especially in rural areas. In addition, we are helping to improve the structures for drug monitoring and ensuring that scarce resources are not wasted on worthless, and even hazardous, medicines.”
The Minilab has been developed by the Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF) and consists of two portable and tropic-resistant suitcases that contain the means to detect inferior or ineffective medicines. It offers quick, simple and low-cost test methods to check medicines for external abnormalities, identity and content, and identifies 75 active pharmaceutical ingredients, particularly those in medicines commonly used against infectious diseases. The test methods include those for common antibiotics, anthelmintics, virustatics, anti-malarial medicines, tuberculostatics, and other medicines.
To date, the GPHF has supplied over 700 Minilabs at cost, to more than 90 countries. More than half of these countries are located in Africa. The combination of a simple, reliable test set for onsite testing and a manual with detailed instructions on performing the test is unique. Merck continues to participate in external research with the aim of increasing the number of medicines that can be tested as well as to discover other possibilities for optimizing the Minilab. Training is also offered to ensure that the users are familiar with the test procedure.