FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Researchers at Colorado State University are working to develop a test that would identify counterfeit antibiotics with ease.
The World Health Organization estimates up to 10 percent of all drugs worldwide could be falsified with up to 50 percent of those some form of antibiotics.
“I read one story about a 3 year old who took antibiotics and she got much worse,“ lead grad student investigator Katherine Boehle said. “In this country, we take for granted that our antibiotics are good. We don’t even think twice.”
CSU chemistry professor Charles Henry says quality control is less of an issue in the U.S. for a number of reasons.
“The equipment that we use in the U.S. and in Europe to check the antibiotics costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy. They can’t do that in developing world so the infrastructure doesn’t exist,” Henry said.
They started working on a simple, inexpensive way to test the quality.
“The system consists of literally a piece of paper and wax,” he said.
Boehle says the test uses the same enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics to detect their presence in one of their samples. A good test will have little change to the color; a sample with substandard quality will turn red.
A test that can be used in the field and costs about 25 cents to make.
“It feels great to be part of a project. You know changing the world sounds huge, but even changing the life of that 3 year old,” she said.
The test is not on the market, but both researchers hope that it will be soon making it available worldwide.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.