BarCode: Decoding the mysterious world of counterfeit drugs
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The office of the US Trade Representative highlighted that India has a growing problem of counterfeit medicines, in its annual ‘Special 301 Report’ on intellectual property protection and review of ‘notorious markets’ for piracy and counterfeiting.

The report also mentions a counterfeit rate of 20% in all pharmaceutical goods sold in the Indian market.

With the third-largest pharmaceutical market, India is one of the leading global producers of low-cost generic medicines due to its high domestic demand and inexpensive manufacturing costs. India’s status as a low-cost manufacturing base has opened the gates for counterfeiters.

Identifying counterfeit drugs is quite complex and costly. Consumers, and sometimes prescribing physicians themselves, cannot tell the difference between the legitimate product and a counterfeit one.

Across the world, many methods and platforms are tested to combat the menace. Barcoding is one of the easiest and effective way to address this menace in a short span in a country like India.

According to GS1 India, “A single 2D datamatrix barcode can hold a significant amount of information and may remain legible even when printed at a small size or etched onto a product. 2D barcodes are used in a wide range of industries, from manufacturing and warehousing to logistics and healthcare.”

When drugs are scanned, they can immediately be identified. This improves the traceability of medicines, allowing fakes to be easily identifiable.

Barcoding on medical devices and exported medicines is compulsory, but domestically sold drugs are currently only voluntarily barcoded.

The government’s regulatory body for pharmaceutical and medical devices, the Drug and Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) suggested the change to combat false labelling as well, as manufacturers can quickly be identified.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and PlexusMD does not necessarily subscribe to it.

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