Anti-counterfeiting DNA molecular tagging of pharmaceutical excipients: An evaluation of lactose containing tablets

Mohamad Jamal Altamimi, Joanna C. Greenwood, Kim Wolff, Michael E. Hogan, Ahuti Lakhani, Gary P. Martin, Paul G. Royall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The licensed pharmaceutical industry and regulators use many approaches to control counterfeiting, but it remains a very difficult task to differentiate between counterfeit and real products. Moreover, there is a lack of techniques available for providing a batch specific molecular bar code for tablets that has the required traceability, specificity and sensitivity to be fit for purpose. The aim of this study was to evaluate DNA molecular tags as a potential anti-counterfeiting technology in tablets. Lactose tablets (400 mg) were used as a model to investigate incorporation DNA molecular tag into a solid dosage form: DNA authentication was carried out on an Applied DNA SigNify® qPCR instrument. Tablet batches were subjected to accelerated stability conditions (40 °C and 75% RH) for up to 6 months. All batches passed the monograph specifications of the British Pharmacopoeia (hardness, friability and mass uniformity) throughout the storage period. In all of recovery plots, the number of cycles required for DNA detection (Cq values) increased as a function of storage time, which indicated a reduction in tag levels, but it should be noted for all storage experiments the tag was clearly detected. It would appear that DNA molecular tags could feasibly be applied within the pharmaceutical development cycle when a new solid dosage form is brought to the market so as to mitigate the risk and dangers of counterfeiting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118656
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2019


  • Anti-counterfeiting
  • DNA amplification
  • DNA molecular tag
  • Lactose
  • Medicine authentication
  • Solid dosage form
  • Tableting


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