Jul 23, 2009 | 4
Getting prescription medication into developing countries is hard enough. But what if the drugs that actually make it there don’t work? Or worse, they cause further harm?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated three years ago that nearly one in four pharmaceutical drugs sold in the developing world is counterfeit, the New York Times reported this week. And recent discoveries suggest the war on fake drugs shows no sign of abating, as the pharmaceutical forgers wield increasingly sophisticated weaponry.
“The counterfeit drug business has become increasingly attractive for criminal syndicates,” according to the Times. “The profit potential is vast, yet punishment for those caught is typically much less severe than for illegal drugs like cocaine, law enforcement officials say.”
May 4, 2009 | 2
Carbon dating, a valuable tool for placing ancient archaeological finds in context, is now being applied to date more modern treasures: pricey bottles of scotch.
Researchers at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU) in England have applied their craft to sniff out counterfeit whiskeys, with the help of an unsavory ally: 20th-century nuclear tests. Those tests left their mark in the isotope record, significantly boosting levels of atmospheric carbon 14, the radioactive form of the element that researchers measure in carbon dating. Living things take up carbon from the environment, so barley grown during the nuclear era—and the whiskey distilled from it—bears an increased load of carbon 14. (Carbon dating of truly ancient objects uses the steady decay of carbon 14 in once-living tissues as a marker of age: the older something is, the less carbon 14 it has left.)
Deadline: Jul 30 2013
Reward: $100,000 USD
The Seeker desires a method for producing pseudoephedrine products in such a way that it will be extremely difficult for clandestine che
Deadline: Jul 15 2013
Reward: $5,000 USD
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