India considers track and trace system to combat counterfeiters

Trying to get a handle on counterfeit drugs manufactured in India, a task force is suggesting the government establish a "track and trace" system using special software and SMS texting technology.

A task force has submitted its final report to the government, which will consider the provision but would have to amend the country's Drug and Cosmetics Act to to make any program enforceable, reports Pharmbiz.

Without giving precise details of how the system would work, Pharmbiz reports the system would use unique identifying codes that could be checked by text with drug manufacturers anywhere along the supply chain. The system is considered the best option because it would be affordable at all levels. Still, the task force chairman, Dr. H.G. Koshia, says the group believes a system should be phased in from larger to smaller organizations.

"Our main objective had been to find a system that will assist in (tracking) the source of the drugs that are manufactured within the country so that we can ensure that patients are safe from the illegal drugs that are seeping into the market," Koshia says.

The program comes as questions have been raised by India's parliament over the government's ability to protect consumers against counterfeit and substandard drugs, a debate going on throughout the world and throughout the pharma industry. A recent report to the parliament said that in the first half of last year, about 5.5% of drugs tested in India were substandard or counterfeit.

Some of the same questions of tracking drugs are under discussion in the U.S. as more counterfeits, particularly fakes of critical medications like Avastin, have appeared.

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