Botswana receives mobile compact lab to detect counterfeit medicines

Donated by the Global Pharma Health Fund, a charitable initiative funded by Merck

The Global Pharma Health Fund, a charitable initiative funded by Merck, has donated a mobile compact laboratory to the Health Ministry in Botswana's capital Gaborone to help detect counterfeit medicines.

The Minilab can be used to identify inferior and counterfeit medicines rapidly and reliably.

Interpol estimates that up to 30% of all medicines in Africa are either fake or of poor quality.

Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck, who met the Minister of Health of Botswana, Honorable Dorcas Makgato-Malesu in Gaborone, said: '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 developed by the Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF) 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 more than 700 Minilabs at cost, to more than 90 countries. More than half of these countries are located in Africa. 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 optimising the Minilab.

Merck has delivered healthcare services in Africa since 1897. With a population rising faster than in any other global market and a growing middle class, the company is increasingly tapping into the continent’s innovative spirit to create health awareness and help respond to unmet medical needs.

The Group’s Executive Board is currently visiting 10 African countries to underscore its commitment to and rising importance of the continent.

Merck has recently started local production of diabetes medicines in Algeria, and has opened an office in Nigeria to start the sale of its Muse Auto CD4/CD4% System to detect HIV.