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Identification of Falsified Chloroquine Tablets in Africa at the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gnegel et al., The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, doi:10.4269/ajtmh.20-0363
Jul 2020  
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Analysis of chloroquine tablets from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo showing the absence of the stated active ingredient chloroquine in 4 out of 5 samples, and the presence of undeclared ingredients paracetamol and metronidazole. The fifth sample contained only 22% of the declared amount of chloroquine.
Gnegel et al., 8 Jul 2020, peer-reviewed, 8 authors. Contact: heide@uni-tuebingen.de, gesa.gnegel@uni-tuebingen.de, cathrin.hauk@unituebingen.de, georgesmutombo@dcmp8ecepac.org, nyaahngoh@gmail.com, dorothee.wistuba@uni-tuebingen.de, haefele@difaem.de.
This PaperHCQAll
Identification of Falsified Chloroquine Tablets in Africa at the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Gesa Gnegel, Cathrin Hauk, Richard Neci, Georges Mutombo, Fidelis Nyaah, Dorothee Wistuba, Christine Häfele-Abah, Lutz Heide
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, doi:10.4269/ajtmh.20-0363
Reports that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may be effective against COVID-19 have received worldwide attention, increasing the risk of the introduction of falsified versions of these medicines. Five different types of falsified chloroquine tablets were discovered between March 31, 2020 and April 4, 2020, in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo by locally conducted thin layer chromatographic analysis. Subsequent investigation by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry in Germany proved the absence of detectable amounts of chloroquine and the presence of undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients, that is, paracetamol and metronidazole, in four of the samples. The fifth sample contained chloroquine, but only 22% of the declared amount. Such products represent a serious risk to patients. Their occurrence exemplifies that once medicines or vaccines against COVID-19 may be developed, falsified products will enter the market immediately, especially in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Timely preparations for the detection of such products are required, including the establishment of appropriate screening technologies in LMICs.
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