This CDC assay aims to lessen the anti-malarial drug counterfeiting epidemic by testing for the artemisinin-type drugs (the active compound), through the use of a simple, inexpensive colorimetric test. Poor quality and counterfeit drugs pose an immediate threat to public health and undermine malaria control efforts, resulting in resistant-parasites and invalidates effective compounds, i.e. the artemisinins.
In response to this threat, CDC researchers have developed a simple, inexpensive, field-adapted colorimetric test to determine artemesin-derivative authenticity in anti-malarial tablets. This assay exploits a chemical reaction in which the active element in question readily reacts under mild conditions with diazonium salts producing a visually distinct green-colored product. The resultant product delineates a positive correlation between color intensity and the drug's concentration of active-compound; counterfeit drugs will have no or little change in color.