qr codes: QR codes on medicines: Experts underline challenges for industry

The top 300 widely used drug brands will have the quick response (QR) codes to ensure authenticity and traceability of the medicines, as per the Union Health Ministry which has amended the Drugs Rules, 1945, to implement the innovative scheme.

In March, the ministry had asked the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) to shortlist drug brands that can be included for implementation of mandatory QR codes.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has identified 300 most used drugs for QR codes that includes analgesics, vitamins, diabetic, and hypertension medicines, among others.

The industry has welcomed the steps of introducing QR codes on widely used medicines which will help in preventing the drug counterfeit which has emerged as a threat in recent years and also will help the common citizens to gather the accurate information about the medicines they are using.

“We welcome the government’s move to start only with the top 300 brands as it will allow the ecosystem to be built up before expanding across the sector”, said Nishant Berlia, Chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Committee, PHDCCI. However, he also underlined some challenges for the implementation of the scheme.

There are three challenges, he said, the first implementing QR printing is a significant change control in the manufacturing process and requires time to deploy. Second, there should be allowed cost escalation for small and medium manufacturers who make lower priced but small batches and will conversely have a higher cost to implement per batch.

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“Thirdly, the availability and affordability of IT systems at last mile distribution in our country means that many counters most at risk will take time to participate without subsidies or grants”, said Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Committee Chairman.

“Drug counterfeit has recently emerged as a global threat and the QR Codes for drug safety can go a very long way in managing drug counterfeit and proper administration of medicines to patients. Medicine packages that now come with QR Codes offers transparency about the manufacturing process, contents of the drugs and expiry date”, said Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director, ENTOD Pharmaceuticals.

He added that that QR codes can even allow for better data monitoring by a pharmaceutical company. “It is certainly a welcome move by the government which will soon make QR code mandatory on the pack of 300 medicines. The medicine packs that come with a unique QR code, will help trace the source and affirm the authenticity of products”, added he.

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