Forensic palynology (the use in civil and criminal investigations of spores, pollen and other microscopic entities found on pollen slides) can be used in many different contexts. Over the past 10 years, forensic palynology has been used to identify the origin of falsified (i.e. counterfeit) life-saving pharmaceuticals, particularly antimalarials. Counterfeit antimalarial pharmaceuticals in both tablet and liquid form have been picked up throughout Southeast Asia and increasingly through Africa, resulting in massive loss of life. A wide range of spores, pollen, fibres, charcoal, black specks, insect remains, fungal spores and hyphae, etc. have been found in the tablets. The amount recovered has decreased over time, with increased sophistication of the counterfeiting as the perpetrators increase income and can afford more specialised equipment. Research, with forensic palynology forming just one aspect, suggests that many of the pharmaceuticals that could be sourced came from the border areas of China with Vietnam, Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR), Thailand and Myanmar (Burma).
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Vol. 41 • No. 1–2