Commerce ministry to go ahead with barcoding of medicines

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Medicine and Syringe
Hyderabad, March 15: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will go ahead with the proposed 2D barcoding and a unique ''randomly generated numeric code'' on medicine packaging meant for exports, a senior official said.

According to PV Appaji, executive director of Pharmexcil, (Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council) under the ministry has set March 31 as the date for receiving objections and suggestions from the pharma industry which is opposing the move.

"The government will go ahead with implementation of the bar coding. However, the ministry has asked the industry to come out with their problems before March 31. Bar coding is fixed and the government will implement it as per the schedule," Appaji told PTI.

The commerce ministry had recently mandated all medicines manufactured and exported out of the country to have a barcode from July 1.

Rajeev Kher, additional secretary, Department of Commerce held a meeting on March 10 with the representatives of pharmaceutical companies Torrent, Lupin and Fortis India, along with the officials of the Pharmexcil, sources said.

The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has made it mandatory for drug makers to print a barcode on every product exported out of the country in the wake of overseas allegations that some local firms ship out counterfeit medicines.

Export of pharmaceuticals from India stood at Rs.40,000 crore in the last fiscal and is expected to witness a growth of 20 per cent this year.

The industry is opposing the move saying that it would incur an additional cost for bar-coding procedure.

Any value edition to the product would affect pricing, said an official of the city-based Natco Pharma.

"As it is we have been facing serious competition from China on all fronts. Barcoding needs additional investment on manpower as well as machinery and thus put pressure on pricing", M. Adinarayana, Company Secretary and General Manager of Natco Pharma said.

The pharma industry estimates that the procedure of barcoding would cost them around Rs.1 crore to Rs. 2 crore, however, Appaji said as per government estimates it would cost them 30 paisa per strip.

"Putting barcode on primary packing is difficult and expensive but secondary and outer layer of the export package will be acceptable for the industry," Appaji said.

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) recently indicated that it would make it mandatory for the companies that medicines for domestic supplies should also bear barcodes. However, the government is yet to come out with an order.

PTI

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