Substandard cisplatin found while screening the quality of anticancer drugs from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Madeline S. Eberle, Ayenew Ashenef, Heran Gerba, Patrick J. Loehrer, Marya Lieberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PURPOSE A postmarket evaluation of chemotherapy dosage forms in Ethiopia was conducted to test the accuracy of the chemoPAD, a paper analytical device for drug quality screening. MATERIALS AND METHODS In September of 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 41 anticancer drug dosage forms (representing 4 active ingredients, 5 brands, and 7 lot numbers) were collected and were rapidly screened for quality using a chemotherapy paper analytical device (chemoPAD). Confirmatory analysis via high performance liquid chromatography was conducted. RESULTS The chemoPAD showed that the correct active pharmaceutical ingredient was present in doxorubicin, methotrexate, and oxaliplatin injectable dosage forms. However, 11 of 20 cisplatin samples failed the screening test. Confirmatory assay by high-performance liquid chromatography showed that all 20 cisplatin samples-comprising three lot numbers of a product stated to be Cisteen-were substandard, containing on average 54% 6 6% of the stated cisplatin content. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy analysis of five representative samples found 57% to 71% of the platinum that should have been present. The sensitivity of the chemoPAD for detection of falsified products could not be measured (as none were present in these samples), but the selectivity was 100% (no false positives). The sensitivity for detection of substandard products was 55%, and the selectivity was 100% (no false positives). CONCLUSION Although instrumental analysis by pharmacopeia methods must remain the gold standard for assessing overall drug quality, these methods are time consuming and patients could be exposed to a bad-quality drug while clinical workers wait for testing to be performed. The chemoPAD technology could allow clinicians to check at the point of use for serious problems in the quality of chemotherapy drugs on a weekly or monthly schedule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-413
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Global Oncology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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