The trade in falsified medicine has increased significantly and it is estimated that global falsified sales have reached $100 billion in 2020. The EU Falsified Medicines Directive states that falsified medicines do not only reach patients through illegal routes but also via the legal supply chain. Falsified medicines can contain harmful ingredients. They can also contain too little or too much active ingredient or no active ingredient at all. BARDS (Broadband Acoustic Resonance Dissolution Spectroscopy) harnesses an acoustic phenomenon associated with the dissolution of a sample (tablet or powder). The resulting acoustic spectrum is unique and intrinsic to the sample and can be used as an identifier or signature profile. BARDS was evaluated in this study to determine whether a product is falsified or genuine in a rapid manner and at lower cost than many existing technologies. A range of genuine and falsified medicines, including falsified antimalarial tablets from south-east Asia, were tested, and compared to their counterpart genuine products. Significant differences between genuine and falsified doses were found in their acoustic signatures as they disintegrate and dissolve. Principal component analysis was employed to differentiate between the genuine and falsified medicines. This demonstrates that the tablets and capsules included here have intrinsic acoustic signatures which could be used to screen the quality of medicines.
School of Chemistry, Analytical and Biological Chemistry Research Facility (ABCRF), University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.