Indian drug manufacturers face higher costs with bar-code requirement

Small and medium-sized Indian drugmakers are decrying a move by the government to impose new bar-code requirements and say the action shows the government is taking sides with big multinational players to elbow out smaller competition. The larger companies are saying the move is necessary to protect the country's reputation.

Pharmaceutical companies in India are now required to establish a "parent-child" relationship with all drugs from Oct. 1, which means a bar code will be used on every drug strip that goes into a unique package, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper.

The regulation is an attempt to track the origins of a shipment and to stamp out fake drugs. Indian officials representing the smaller drug companies believe they will be forced out of business because of the requirement.

"We already have bar-codes on secondary and tertiary packages. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) don't have the money to establish parent-child relationships between strips of drugs and their packets. More importantly, it adds no value to the quality of the product," Bharat Desai, chairman of the Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA) in Gujarat, told The Hindu.

Smaller companies complain the Commerce Ministry and Pharmexcil--the country's export promotion lobby--are trying to force a consolidation of the industry.

They also complain, The Hindu reported, that the ministry and Pharmexcil had reorganized the rules for joining the export group to exclude smaller companies.

Another IDMA member warned that exports by smaller companies to Latin America and Africa could be affected, The Hindu reported.

The member, whose name was not disclosed by The Hindu, said the companies couldn't afford to invest in the coding technology and shipments in November will suffer.

"We will be wiped out if the ministry does not reconsider this decision," the member said.

- here's the story from The Hindu