Indian officials trip over 2D tracking codes

What a difference two weeks makes. Advocates for 2D barcoding for drug tracking in India are likely a bit deflated since the Union Health Ministry said it will not take a "hasty decision" on use of the codes for drug marking.

The announcement comes two weeks after a firm-sounding Ministry of Commerce and Industry said it will go ahead with the proposal for 2D barcoding on packets of medicine to be exported. The emphasis on exports is to counter allegations of counterfeits drugs originating in India.

"Bar coding is fixed and the government will implement it as per schedule," said P.V. Appaji of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council, in a press report.

The Commerce Ministry, for its part, mandated July 1 as the date for export medicines to carry the codes. Likewise with the Director General of Foreign Trade and the Drugs Controller General of India. Drugmakers have put up a fight, noting the extra costs they will incur and the damage to their competitiveness against foreign rivals.

The Union Health Ministry, in explaining why it opts not to charge forward, notes that the Drug Technical Advisory Board has as yet made no recommendation. And it awaits the decision in a pending court case.

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