Sex drugs in adulterated healthcare products

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  • Published: Dec 31, 2012
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Raman

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Raman spectroscopy can be used to detect two drugs that enhance sexual potency in counterfeit healthcare products which are marketed as herbal in nature. Chinese researchers at the Shanghai Institute for Food and Drug Control tested for sildenafil and tadalafil as described in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy. The undeclared presence of the two drugs is forbidden and potentially dangerous to consumers.

Suspect products seized by the authorities in Shanghai were first examined visually using a microscope to identify areas which had different crystal forms or shapes from the adjacent material. These areas were then targeted by micro-Raman spectroscopy and the signatures of sildenafil and tadalafil could be identified, before structural confirmation by LC/MS.

The method is not straightforward because care must be taken to reduce the natural background fluorescence emanating from the natural extracts. However, it was simplified by introducing a chemometric procedure to compare the Raman spectra of the products with those of pure drug standards to aid non-specialist analysts by allowing automated testing.

All seven of the examined products were labelled as herbal in nature but four of them were found to contain sildenafil and two others tadalafil.

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