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The availability of falsified antimalarial drugs can be reduced with effective drug regulatory agencies and proper enforcement. Fundamental to these agencies taking action, rapid identification must be made as soon as they appear in the market place. Since falsified antimalarials occur mostly in developing countries, performing drug analysis presents itself with unique challenges. A fundamental factor in choosing a useful technique is affordability and simplicity. Therefore, we suggest a three-tiered drug evaluation strategy for identifying a falsified drug in resource-poor areas. Tier I is a simple comparison of a tablet's weight and dimensions with official specifications. Tier II uses inexpensive photometric devices (laser and fluorescence) to evaluate a tablet. Suspicious samples from Tier I and II assessments are then subjected to a colorimetric assay for active ingredients identification and quantification. In this article, we evaluate a novel colorimetric assay for the simultaneous assessment of both lumefantrine and artemether in co-formulated Coartem™ tablets, and integrate the method with two novel, low-cost, fluorescence and laser photometric devices. Image analysis software is used for the assessments. Although artemether-lumefantrine is used as an example, the strategy may be adapted to other medicines.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date





8 - 16


Antimalarials, Artemether, Lumefantrine Drug Combination, Artemisinins, Colorimetry, Counterfeit Drugs, Developing Countries, Drug Combinations, Ethanolamines, Fluorenes, Fluorescence, Lasers, Photometry, Tablets