Counterfeit Drugs and X- ray diffraction

York College’s Assistant Professor of Chemistry Daniele Musumeci is an expert in many fields, but his most recent research in solid-state pharmaceuticals gives insight into the work and research being done at the College.

Musumeci said the hardest thing in the pharmaceutical industry right now is converting molecules that can cure something into a dosage form or medication. When creating new medications the important thing is making sure the molecule also referred to as API (active principle ingredient) be soluble in water. If the molecule cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream, then it cannot be placed on the market.

“If the molecule doesn’t have the right chemical group and they don’t attach to the receptors then it will not work for the disease,” says Musumeci.

One of the ways to make a molecule soluble is by turning it into an amorphous solid, changing the order of the molecules into crystals to make their bonds less susceptible to breaking.

“You want to make the molecules into amorphous solids, which will increase the solubility of the drug.  The problem however with amorphous solids is that they tend to transform back into crystals,” says Musumeci.

One of his recent studies involved using x-ray diffraction to find counterfeit drugs. Counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs are a global threat to public health, and they undermine the credibility and the financial success of the producers of the original products says Musumeci.

Counterfeit drugs often appear in antibiotics, antimicrobials, sexual dysfunction remedies, hormones and steroids.  These counterfeit drugs are affecting developing countries where drug regulations are ineffective.

“One of the most commonly known counterfeit drug is Viagra. The internet makes it easy for counterfeit drugs to be sold, because you cannot track the people who are selling it” says Musumeci.

The developments of new technologies are aimed to prevent, deter or detect counterfeit products. Some methods used to certifying the authenticity of pharmaceutical drugs include liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, capillary gas, and thin layered chromatography says scientists.

“We rely on the FDA to make sure the medications we dispense are not counterfeit,” says Tatiana K a registered pharmacist at Walgreens in Brooklyn.

However some of the new methods use to verify the authenticity of a pharmaceutical drug can be time-consuming and destructive because they require complicated sample preparation says scientist.

“In solid state chemistry there is a technique use to determine the structure of a crystal called x-ray diffraction. When we use this method to find the API or active principle ingredient,” says Musumeci.

A faster and nondestructive method to identify counterfeit drugs would be near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) which can be used to identify the active principle ingredient API experts say.

“Depending on the structure of the crystal, each molecule will have a different pattern and that pattern will allow us to determine what substances are present,” says Musumeci.

Scientists have decided to use micro X-ray diffraction method, which uses x-ray beams to read barcodes and logos in a specific pill. These codes are not visible to the naked eye scientist say.

“If someone wants to replicate the drug it will be harder to do because they cannot see the logo by eye. You can map the surface with the x-ray and you will get the diffraction pattern,” says Musumeci.

The logos placed on the pills consist of suspensions of rutile powder mixed with corn syrup and zinc oxide powder. A PDMS stamp of a particular pattern is then pressed onto a thin layer of suspension which is then transferred by contacting the substrate with the stamp under slight pressure experts say.

“The more intense the colors are during the diffraction method, the easier it if for a scientist to tell which substance is present,” say Musumeci.

While testing to see the difference between the counterfeit and the original drug scientists will use a color indicator. Both rutile and anataste forms of titanium dioxide are approved by the FDA as indicators.  They are recognized as safe and are commonly used in dietary supplements experts say.

“Pills have an imprint which allows your pharmacist and doctor to know what they are, specifically your prescriptions,” says Tatiana.

Counterfeit drugs not only affect the industry economically who invest money to research new drugs, but they are also dangerous to the individual who purchase them. These drugs contain substances which are toxic and can lead to death. Oftentimes these counterfeit drugs do not treat the disease for which they were purchased scientists say.

“These kinds of illegal drug transitions are not really here in the United States, because we have the FBI. They are from other countries which are under developed,” says Musumeci.

The original drugs will have the right bar code if the drug is fake, when tested it will not have the right bar code.

“Everything that is done in a pharmaceutical environment is strictly controlled they follow certain guidelines and protocol, say Musumeci.

Musumeci advises that anyone who needs medication should go to a doctor or a pharmacy. This will make sure they will not receive the counterfeit drug or suffer from any health complications later on in life.

“Do not order pills outside of the country, it can be dangerous,” says Tatiana K the pharmacist.

A large quantity of the world’s counterfeit medicines originates in Asia and end up in the Unites states and in Europe. China is the leading country when it comes to manufacturing counterfeit drugs. It is estimated that in China between 200,000 to 300,000 people die each year because of counterfeit drug use. Counterfeit drugs kill over 700,000 people a year. Many people are dying in Africa as well experts say.

Daniele Musumeci research is supported by the National Science Foundation Chemistry Research Instrumentation and Facilities program. More information about this research can be found in the ACS publications Journal. The name of his article is Anticounterfeit Protection of Pharmaceutical Products with Spatial Mapping of X-ray-Detectable Barcodes and Logos.


SUNY Downstate Health Fair

SUNY Downstate Medical Center University Hospital of Brooklyn held their 27th annual community health fair recognizing National Hospital Week. This Hospital serving the Brooklyn community for over a century may soon close. There is not enough federal funding to keep SUNY Downstate Hospital open. Downstate staff and community residents are reaching out to the governor to do something about this closing. Many medical students in Brooklyn and from abroad study at SUNY Downstate.There have been over 400 layoffs and many residents of the community and staff members of the hospital have protested within the past few months to save SUNY Downstate Long Island Hospital. The Long Island Hospital will be the first to go to save other Downstate centers. Patrice BooDoo teaching staff assistant at SUNY Downstate says ” I set up everything for this even and I enjoy working here.”

The Health Fair went on as SUNY Downstate served the community. The fair offered free health information and screenings such as blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, prostate, breast exam, pap test, colon cancer test, hearing test, stroke screening, HIV testing, height and weight measurements, and more. There were free refreshments served like yogurt, fruits and chicken wraps. Joan Mitchell says “I like to get involved, that’s why I attend these health fairs. There were a few individuals protesting at the fair to stop the closing of SUNY.

There was entertainment for all ages. Apryl Cadabra Entertainment Agency did face painting for the little children. The DJ played a mixture of music as people danced and walked around learning about health factors and signed up to get exams done. The fire department also attended this health fair giving tips on preventing fires and about the best smoke detectors to use and how often to change them.




Bellevue Hospital Volunteer Services (Final)

IMG_20130523_110726 IMG_20130523_110822 IMG_20130523_110903Bellevue Hospital Center’s Department of Volunteer Services held a seminar to recruit volunteers in the Heath care field. The seminar seeks volunteers for eighteen different volunteer programs. WIC, Patient Advocacy, and Rape Crisis Advocacy, were a few of the programs mentioned. The volunteer recruitment program works with 300 non-profit organizations which include theatres, soup kitchens, senior centers and museums.

The Rape Crisis Advocacy program, only works after business hours from 6pm to midnight. This program works  with sexually assaulted victims both male and female of all ages. They also work with the homeless, psychiatry, and prisoners. The advocates of this program give counseling, inform rape victims of their rights and give information about different health care’s available. The Department of Health requires a 40 hour training for this program. The two main locations for this program are Bellevue Hospital and NYU. Volunteers for this program are on call from 6pm to 8am, they need to complete two shifts a month, and make an eighteen month commitment to the program.

WIC (women-infant-children) Program provides care to moms, infants of one year and children until the age of five. WIC’s focus is to encourage breastfeeding. Some of their advocates encourage moms to breastfeed, they also read to children in waiting rooms. Goods provided by WIC are things such as eggs, cheese, beans, milk, juice, bread, rice and fruits. There is also an outreach program WIC provides, where advocates go into the community and invite people to join WIC.

The Patient Advocacy program, works with patients and their families. They seek volunteers who are in college and adults. They work with patients in fourteen different units, giving information about life insurance and settling disputes patients may have with doctors and nurses. Advocates working in this program follow patients to their units, for example prison wards. Volunteers need to give four to five hours a day of their time at least once a week and are not required to work on weekends. Smiley Sharma says ” I volunteer because I want to know what goes on in the background with the patients.”

Alan Bersin

Alan Bersin

Homeland Security

Homeland Security created in 2003 Protects the American nation from threats foreign and domestic. Assistant secretary on international affairs Alana Bersin tackled the different forms of protection such as borders, law enforcement and the underworld of globalization at John Jay College of criminal justice.Terrorist attack on the American nation also called 9/11 was the basis for creating Homeland Security. The organizations which unite to keep Homeland security active are Homeland Security Investigations, Transportation Security Administration, National Protection and Programs Director for Cyber, Customs and Border, Federal Emergency Management Association and the Secret Service.

Homeland Security spends an average of fifty billion dollars a year, to keep the organization active. This institution has built partnerships with countries around the world, to help guard the American nation. Homeland Security has the largest footprint of employees abroad, to help stop terrorism. Homeland Security has caused organizations such as FBI, CIA and Federal government to share information with each other, to help eliminate threats to the country.Homeland security is responsible for the dismantling of Al-Qaeda which was responsible for 9/11.

According to Bersin the future no longer looks bright and promising. Students should change the way they see the world. He advises students to choose their professions with regards to the changing nature of the country and border countries. He states “I envy this generation of law enforcement.” This younger generation will be more flexible with the new technology and the agencies of protection working together. He asks teachers to listen to their students, because students can connect with the changing world and new ways of innovation.

Dreams Girls cast and crew preparing !

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York College prepares for its first production of DreamGirls the Broadway Musical. This musical moved from Broadway to the big screen in 2006, featuring actors Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, and Eddie Murphy. When the musical début in 1981, DreamGirls won six Tony awards for best Musical and now York College will do their first production of this musical. Professor. Timothy Amrhein chair head of the Theatre Department at York College will direct the musical. In the fall of 2012 Armhein chose the cast for this production a few weeks before the semester ended. Each student who auditioned for this production had to sing a fast and a slow song. With a cast of twenty, York College seems ready for the production.

There will be eight different shows of this musical production, with the first show premiering this Friday May 3, 2013. Professor Jonathan Quash, director of York College choir, will direct the musical for this production. The cast and crew are running their dress rehearsals and everyone seems both excited and a bit stressed. “Stay calm and dream on,” says Amrhein. Students and faculty are working on the building the set for this production, invested time on the weekends as well. The scenic designer for this production is Professor. David Jones. He says the hardest thing about this production is the budget because he has to borrow, steal and rent. Jones also says:”The show opening day and time we are ready as we will ever be.” The production is well on its way, as the actors practice and the Technical team worked on the sound and lighting.

The tickets for this production range from ten to twenty dollars which could be bought at the box office in the theater building. There are outside cast members from other CUNY schools in this production as well. The dress rehearsal went well and I cannot wait to see the production. I urge all to attend and support the theater department.

York College SCHOLARSHIP Ceremony

York College SCHOLARSHIP Ceremony

York College hosted a Scholarship Benefit Concert. This benefit concert featured award winner Eddie Palmieri salsa orchestra. Eddie Palmieri is a nine time Grammy award winner. The York College Band performed, directed by professor Tom Zlabinger. There was raffle which included three different prizes. These prizes were round-trip plane tickets for anywhere in the United States and to the Caribbean Islands. The price of a raffle ticket was one hundred dollars. Individuals who participated in the raffle were not required to attend to win. Faculty and students were not allowed to use the main parking lot, located behind the theater building so that guest could park. La Promenade catered the food for this award ceremony. The security team for this event were not members of York College security team. The setting up for this Concert looked beautiful. The guests were friendly chefs, security guards and the coat check attendants. It was nice to hear York band practicing before the show they were wonderful.