FHI Portable lab
FHI Portable lab

An  industrial chemist David Jenkins tells that a rumor started in Zambia that the Depo was contaminated with HIV.  Overnight, usage of the drug plummeted.  US AID asked the FHI lab to test batches of the Depo to see what was up. Eli Carter told that:

“Our chemist and our virologist who works in another part of FHI, teamed up and they were able to simulate a false positive to show that they could replicate what had happened and prove that there was no contamination of the Depo-Provera.

And I think it also points out how much faith and trust the US AID puts in this lab… that they can call on us and we are able to respond here from North Carolina out to Zambia. We have a country office in Zambia and we worked with the Zambian authorities and facilitated all the preparations for this and monitor the situation…”

One contraption David Jenkins uses a portable lab they’ve acquired to field test for counterfeit drugs.  Counterfeits are a huge problem, especially for anti-malarial drugs.

The testing kit has everything needed to test pharmaceuticals in almost any location – even a rural area.Use of a counterfeit anti-malarial drugs can

1) increase the risk you don’t get better and die

2) increase the probability that malaria parasites become resistant to the disease.

That’s happening right now in South East Asia, and there’s a real need to nip it in the bud.  FHI is looking for money for a project that would send lab workers into rural areas to test the drugs people are using and make sure they actually contain active ingredient.