The new cyber-physical watermarking method would help patients to recognize counterfeit medicines using a smartphone.
The software developed by the Purdue University team would allow patients to check if the medicine is legitimate by taking a picture of a watermark attached to it with a smartphone, Cybernews reports.
Patients could also check the dosage regime, the frequency, and even additional information about the medicine.
The watermark is printed on a unique and specialized fluorescent silk via food dye that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Each watermark, which can be as small as 5x5 mm, is designed to be placed onto the pills via a sugar-based glue.
Researchers applied the technology to a wide range of smartphone models and ensured it would work with various photo quality and lighting settings, Cybernews reports.
They hope watermarks could be first deployed on name-brand medications before being rolled out to a broader range of over-the-counter and generic drugs.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1% of all medicines offered to patients in the developed world are thought to be counterfeit. Meanwhile, in developing countries, 1 in 10 medical products is substandard or falsified.
1. Wiley Online Library. Cyber-Physical Watermarking with Inkjet Edible Bioprinting.
3. World Health Organization. 1 in 10 medical products in developing countries is substandard or falsified.