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Counterfeit antimalarial drugs are found in many developing countries, but it is challenging to differentiate between genuine and fakes due to their increasing sophistication. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a powerful tool in pharmaceutical forensics, and we tested this technique for discriminating between counterfeit and genuine artesunate antimalarial tablets. Using NIRS, we found that artesunate tablets could be identified as genuine or counterfeit with high accuracy. Multivariate classification models indicated that this discriminatory ability was based, at least partly, on the presence or absence of spectral signatures related to artesunate. This technique can be field-portable and requires little training after calibrations are developed, thus showing great promise for rapid and accurate fake detection.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pharm Biomed Anal

Publication Date





1011 - 1014


Antimalarials, Artemisinins, Artesunate, Calibration, Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid, Confidence Intervals, Drug Contamination, Drug Packaging, Fraud, Humans, Malaria, Reproducibility of Results, Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared, Tablets, Time Factors