Characterization of genuine and fake artesunate anti-malarial tablets using Fourier transform infrared imaging and spatially offset Raman spectroscopy through blister packs

  • Camilla Ricci
  • Charlotte Eliasson
  • Neil A. Macleod
  • Paul N. Newton
  • Pavel Matousek
  • Sergei G. Kazarian
Original Paper


In support of the efforts to combat the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit anti-malarial drugs, we evaluated a new analytical approach for the characterization and fast screening of fake and genuine artesunate tablets using a combination of Raman spectroscopy, Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS) and Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) imaging. Vibrational spectroscopy provided chemically specific information on the composition of the tablets; the complementary nature of Raman scattering and FTIR imaging allowed the characterization of both the overall and surface composition of the tablets. The depth-resolving power of the SORS approach provided chemically specific information on the overall composition of the tablets, non-invasively, through a variety of packaging types. Spatial imaging of the tablet surface (using ATR-FTIR) identified the location of domains of excipients and active ingredients with high sensitivity and enhanced spatial resolution. The advantages provided by a combination of SORS and ATR-FTIR imaging in this context confirm its potential for inclusion in the analytical protocol for forensic investigation of counterfeit medicines.


FT-IR spectroscopy Fake drugs Malaria Chemical imaging SORS Turbid Artesunate 



CR and SGK would like to thank EPSRC for support (Grant EP/C532678/1). We are also grateful to Dr. Facundo Fernandez for helpful comments on the manuscript. The collection of samples was funded by the Wellcome Trust of Great Britain. We thank all those who assisted in the collection of samples. CE, NAM and PM wish to thank the CLIK Knowledge Transfer, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, EPSRC (grant EP/D037662/1), NESTA and Rainbow Seed Fund for their financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camilla Ricci
    • 1
  • Charlotte Eliasson
    • 2
  • Neil A. Macleod
    • 2
  • Paul N. Newton
    • 3
    • 4
  • Pavel Matousek
    • 2
  • Sergei G. Kazarian
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Central Laser Facility, Science and Technology Facilities CouncilRutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, DidcotOxfordshireUK
  3. 3.Centre for Tropical MedicineChurchill Hospital, University of OxfordOxfordUK
  4. 4.Wellcome Trust-Mahosot Hospital-Oxford University Tropical Medicine Research Collaboration, Microbiology Laboratory, Mahosot HospitalVientianeLao People’s Democratic Republic

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