IBM files US patent on AI to spot diluted drugs


Tech giant IBM has filed a US patent on a method of detecting drug dilution, a well-established method for committing drug fraud.

The method relies on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze various physical, spectral, optical and/or chemical characteristics of a sample.

It could be used to detect counterfeits as well as incorrectly prescribed doses when administering a drug, according to the patent, which describes various detection devices that could be developed from the concept.

There have been many incidents where counterfeiters have taken genuine medicine, diluted it and produced many times more vials or bottles of a medicine, some in the original containers and some in counterfeit or reused packaging.

The presence of the active ingredient and legitimate packaging can make this type of tampering difficult to detect, usually requiring forensic examination of the contents.

In one such incident in Europe in 2014, organized criminals stole vials of Roche’s breast cancer treatment Herceptin (trastuzumab) from a facility in Italy, diluted the contents and to reintroduce supplies into the legitimate supply chain in the UK, Germany. and Finland.

The abstract of the patent appears below:

Artificial intelligence for robust detection of drug dilution

Summary: Techniques for detecting diluted drugs using machine learning are disclosed. Measurements and images corresponding to a product are obtained, the product being formulated as a liquid, and the measurements and images capturing physical, spectral, optical and/or chemical properties of the product. The measurements and images are provided to a machine learning model, where the machine learning model is trained using data generated from interactive learning modules (eg, a generative adversarial network). The machine learning model detects whether the product or chemical is real or counterfeit. Additionally, these techniques can be used by practitioners (eg, medical personnel dispensing a prescribed dose of a drug with a specific dilution level) to detect prescription errors at the point of administration.

US Patent Application No. 20210326900


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