Barcoding to become mandatory for drugs in India

The Union Health Ministry in India is going to make barcoding necessary for drugs after an alarming report by US Trade Representative (USTR) which revealed that India was one of the largest producers of fake medicines in the world.

The Drug and Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) had earlier recommended that an Indian law should be made that makes barcoding mandatory for all medicines. This would allow pharmacists, customers and the government to trace medicines across the supply chain and identify where a drug was manufactured

The barcoding would help pharmacist, consumers and government bodies to track and trace medicines across a supply chain. The Indian government is taking the measure after a USTR report which mentioned that up to 20% drugs sold in India are fake and could pose a serious risk to the health and safety of the patient.

As of now barcoding is mandatory for medical devices and exported medicines but for drugs sold domestically, it is voluntary. Raja Selvam, Managing Attorney, Selvam and Selvam said that barcoding would help in preventing the infiltration of fake drugs in the supply chain which will ensure the safety of patients.

DTAB said that mandatory barcoding would help in preventing the problem of false labelling and thus will help the manufacturer in identifying the falsely labelled product. Vikrant Rana, Managing Partner at SS Rana & Co in New Delhi, said that the change was timely, but it will be challenging in the village areas where there is hardly any internet connectivity and electricity making it tough for scanning to be possible.

Health Ministry preparing a draft to counter USTR report

The Indian Health Ministry is preparing a draft to refute US trade representatives (USTR) report that accuses India as one of the main sources of fake medicines across the globe. Arun Singhal, Additional Secretary Health Ministry has dismissed the report and has termed that the Ministry is in the process of preparing a draft to counter USTR report which mentions that India is a global supplier of fake drugs.

The USTR report claims that India and China are the leading hubs for the supply of counterfeit medicines globally. The report states, “While it may not be possible to determine an exact figure, studies have suggested that up to 20% of the drugs sold in the Indian market are counterfeit and could represent a serious threat to patient health and safety.”

Surprisingly, the report is in complete contrast to the government’s own report of 2016 which states that only 3% of the drugs are not of standard quality and 0.0245% are spurious drugs. According to S Eswara Reddy, Drug Controller General of India, “The claim made by USTR tarnishes the image of India which is one of the leading global producers of low-cost generic medicines and hence it’s important to get documentary evidence from them that they used to support their claim.” Leena Menghaney South Asia head of the Access campaign by Médecins Sans Frontières also supports India’s point and says, “MSF supports the health Ministry’s position that the USTR report is a scathing attack on India’s capability of manufacturing large scale affordable generic drugs.”

Source: Live Mint