Objective: The quality of 33 formulations of essential antimicrobial and antimalarial drugs (amoxicillin capsules, metronidazole tablets, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim tablets, quinine tablets and sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine tablets) marketed in Rwanda and Tanzania was assessed and the influence of tropical storage conditions on potency and in vitro dissolution investigated.
Methods: Drug content and in vitro dissolution were determined immediately after purchase and during 6-month storage under simulated tropical conditions (75% relative humidity, 40 degrees C) using the methods described in the USP 24 monographs on the drugs concerned.
Results and discussion: At the time of purchase, the drug content of all the formulations was within the limits recommended by the USP 24, but after 6-month storage, the drug content of one sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim and one quinine formulation were found to be substandard. Immediately after purchase, four formulations (three sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim and one sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine combination) failed the USP 24 dissolution test. Except for three metronidazole and one quinine formulations, dissolution tests performed after 6 months of storage under simulated tropical conditions showed that drug release remained within the USP 24 recommended values.
Conclusion: In both countries, essential drug formulations met pharmacopoeial potency requirements, but some had a poor in vitro drug release profiles. Some of the formulations tested were not stable upon storage under simulated tropical conditions.