The CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organization) is on the verge of implementing a track and trace mechanism for prominent drug manufacturing companies which are most susceptible to counterfeiting. But, the step can only reap benefits if the move extends to NLEM (National List of Essential Medicines) products as well says, AICDF (All India Chemists & Distributors Federation).
CDSCO has identified top 300 drug companies based on the moving annual data. The organization wants top 300 drug brands to print a 14-digit number on the labels of the product along with their contact number. This will help the consumer to check the authenticity of the drugs by sending a text message on the number provided on the label. One would receive information like batch number or the expiry date of the product with other details verifying the product’s genuineness.
However, the AICDF has disagreed with the current move and has stated that counterfeiters concentrate more on the brands which have been popular for more than a decade- the brands well known to common people. Joydeep Sarkar General Secretary of AICDF stated that any new molecule included in NLEM, post-DPCO-2013, can churn out huge profits. In 1995 the NLEM brands had a profit margin of 100 % which has now grown up to 500 to 800 %.
Sarkar also said that government should take proactive measures to banish counterfeiting from the pharma industry but, production of fake medicines starts with the availability of basic ingredients imported by companies. It’s the negligence of the concerned authorities who are quite liberal in allowing easy import of salts rather clearing them through a stringent check. Moreover, no restriction on proper disposal of expired medicines has also encouraged the sale of counterfeit medicines as manufacturers show reluctance to take back expired medicines from stockists. He also pointed out that instead of taking measures against the real offenders who are the manufacturers, authorities consider traders as the prime culprits.
Expressing his doubt on the efficacy of unique code to be printed on dug packs to counter duplication he said that the use of a code, QR-code or a special mark will not be able to restrict counterfeiting. In the past counterfeiters have been able to replicate labels and with time they would also find ways to replicate special codes thus diminishing the line between fake and real product.