Paper Analytical Devices and Related Methods

Tech ID: 12-009

Inventors: Toni Barstis, Marya Lieberman, Patrick Flynn

Date Added: June 22, 2020


An analytical device used for rapid screening of pharmaceuticals.

Technology Summary 

12 009 Graphic

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the FDA estimate that 10-50% of all drugs in the developing world are counterfeit. In low and middle-income countries, there is no regulation on counterfeit pharmaceuticals or consequences for counterfeiters, who are passing off adulterated and underdosed medicines that can be lethal or result in ineffective dosing that promotes drug resistance. Unfortunately, selling counterfeit drugs is easy and lucrative due to the scarcity of testing equipment, trained individuals, and financial resources. While chemical detection tests are available to determine drug viability, they are expensive, have month long turn-around times, require a dependable power source and trained technicians to perform and interpret the tests. Thus, there exists a need for an inexpensive, user-friendly, minimalistic way to effectively detect counterfeit drugs.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College have developed a Paper Analytical Devices (PAD) which are capable of detecting active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and fillers present in common drugs and do not require power or specific training. The PAD is a simple device that consists of a piece of paper containing divided sections, each of which provides a location for spot test chemistry and uses colorimetric tests to identify constituents of the drug and yield qualitative and quantitative results. Each PAD is imprinted with a 2D QR barcode that is scanned with a device and provides additional instruction for identification of the chemical components. The PAD comes in a kit containing all the materials necessary for usage, including a diluent, a micropipette, weighing paper, a cotton swab, and instructions. The inexpensive and reliable PAD created at Notre Dame allows any user to quickly and easily determine drug quality.

Market Advantages

  • APIs detected with 92-100% sensitivity and 88-100% selectivity
  • One PAD can test dozens of drugs
  • Increase rate that counterfeit products can be detected and removed from market
  • Manufacturers are able to catch substandard products during testing phase


Can be used for many drugs including:

  • Panadol
  • Tamiflu
  • Antimalarials
  • Erythromycin
  • Fortified Salt Paper Analytical Devices

Technology Readiness Level 

TRL 4 – Lab Validation

Intellectual Property Status

US 9,354,181 (Analytical Devices for Detection of Low-Quality Pharmaceuticals)


Paper Analytical Devices for Fast Field Screening of Beta Lactam Antibiotics an Antituberculosis Pharmaceuticals. doi:10.1021/ac400989p


Richard Cox