Bethesda pharmacy helping spot counterfeit drugs

Bethesda pharmacy helps spot, root out counterfeit drugs

A local company is making it easier for pharmacies to spot fakes--and preventing them from getting into your pill bottle.

At River Rx in Bethesda, pharmacists check and double check patients' prescriptions. But now there's an added measure of accuracy that they can take.

Silver Spring-based, Infra Trac is testing spectrometers, a device that finds fakes and mistakes, according to company CEO Sharon Flank. “You can shine a light at something and tell what's in it,” she said.

“Having one more system to check it is that much better,” says River Rx Owner, Narender Dhallan.

The tool used by Infra Trac allows you to see the chemical substance that is in a drug. The tool, along with a drug library, allows testers to determine what is real and what is a counterfeit.

“Half of malaria drugs are fake, there are fake antibiotics, fake tuberculosis drugs,” Flank said.

No need to panic, she added, saying that U.S. retail pharmacies are safe—the concern is greater in other countries. “In Canada or Europe, as much as 10 percent of the supplies are problematic. So when you travel you're in much more danger,” Flank said.

The spectrometer also aims to cut down on medical errors. The size and scope of the device can vary based on what's being tested. “As far as hospital medications, we have a way to tell through the IV bag, or through the syringe, whether what's in there is a right drug, right dose,” she said.

Costs of spectrometers are dropping—currently priced around five thousand dollars, Flank says they're becoming smaller and more affordable----boosting their appeal to the medical market. Currently, hospitals are using similar, but larger devices that are not as time-efficient. Spectrometers are also extremely rare at pharmacies.

Infra Trac plans to roll out its tools at local hospitals this year, and are working on putting the technology into smart-phones.