In-vitro evaluation of the quality of Paracetamol and Co-trimoxazole tablets used in Malawi based on pharmacopoeial standards
This study was an in-vitro evaluation of different brands of paracetamol and cotrimoxazole tablets, used or found in Malawi, based on Pharmacopoeia standards, in order to ascertain the existence and extent of substandard medicines in Malawi and to give an overview of their distribution in the public and private sectors.
A cross-sectional analytical study was conducted using 11 samples each of paracetamol and cotrimoxazole tablets. Stratified random sampling was used to collect samples. Samples were analyzed using HPLC and Spectrophometric methods as outlined in the BP-2007 and USP-32 at the National Drug Quality Control Laboratory (NDQCL)-Lilongwe (under Pharmacy Medicines and Poisons Board-PMPB) and Orient Pharma Co. Ltd of Taiwan. The results were analyzed using Epi Info.
Results and discussion
Fifty percent of samples (n=22) were not registered in the country by the PMPB as required by the PMP Act with the majority of those coming from public health facilities. All paracetamol and cotrimoxazole samples complied with identification tests using spectrophotometric and HPLC method. Overall, 27.3% of samples failed to meet the BP-2007 standards for Active Ingredient content, while 22.7% of the samples failed the Friability test. The results from Malawi are similar in magnitude to those within surrounding countries in Africa.
This pilot study provides objective evidence to show that substandard and unregistered paracetamol and cotrimoxazole are present and being used in Malawi, and thus posing a considerable hazard to public health in Malawi. PMPB, together with the Ministry of Health, must continue to develop a quality assurance system to ensure that medicines are randomly and routinely checked.