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Barcodes on mono-cartons: a boon or bane?

To ensure medicines sold in the country are genuine products, the health ministry has developed a 'Track and Trace' mechanism which will enable consumers to check safety and authenticity of a drug through the internet. Barcode helps in tracking and tracing origin of drugs, which minimises the chances of genuine medicines being considered spurious, sub-standard or counterfeit. The Pharmaceutical  exporters keep demand in front of Union commerce ministry to exempt barcodes on mono cartons as a secondary level packaging on pharmaceuticals and drugs  export consignment  which is to be implemented from April 1, 2015 for tracing and tracking purposes.

S V Veerramani, president, Indian Drug Manufacturing Association (IDMA) said that mono cartons contains only one strip of the medication. As well as the size of the strip  is too small and sufficient space is not available for incorporation of complete information on primary labels. Also cost of pack will increase since the blister size needs to be increased to accommodate space for barcode. Such monocartons are packed in a outer carton. And outer cartons are then packed in a corrugated fiber box to accommodate bar coding. So Primary packs shall be exempted from the bar-coding and it should be maintained only on the immediate outer pack of the mono cartons.

Bringing to the notice of the government about the financial burden, exporters said that every manufacturer and exporter will have to buy or upgrade machines, digitalise huge data and set up a whole new team which would require large investments and would be difficult to execute. The small and medium companies would not be able to afford setting up machinery that costs more than Rs. 1 crore and also requires additional manpower, the industry pleads. Now the exporters have demanded to the commerce ministry to withdraw the notification or at least keep the notification in abeyance.

Some  port officials are not clearing consignments of pharma exporters due to the impending requirement of barcodes on mono cartons from April 1, 2015 which is harmful situations for pharma exporters.

Pharma exporters  requesting to the government that they should restrict the requirement of barcoding only on the immediate outer pack of the mono cartons. The industry has been stressing that barcode is neither practical nor an ideal solution for tracking spurious or fake drugs.

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