India's plan for barcodes to track drugs gathers pace

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The Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) is pushing for all drugs sold at the retail level to be barcode scanned as part of an effort to counter fake or substandard drugs that would cover imports and local manufacture.

The International Business Times, citing a story from India Abroad News Service, quoted DCGI chief G.N. Singh as saying plans for a barcode system in India are moving along. "Documents and the entire plan is with the ministry and they are examining it," Singh said, according to the reports. "This will be a technology-driven system."

The U.S. and European Union already require Indian manufacturers to barcode primary packages sent for export, but the move has been resisted domestically because of the cost for smaller firms. At the same time, India has struggled with continued fakes and poorly manufactured products at the retail level with no effective tracking mechanism as mom-and-pop pharmacies also cite the burdens of cost and equipment needed.

The effort may also bring into sharper focus a running battle between upstart online drug retailers in India who face pressure to curb or halt sales by industry groups representing hundreds of thousands of small pharmacies. The new entrants say they have the technology to easily track products and deliveries in ways that will curb so-called spurious drugs.

India has previously said a domestic track-and-trace effort was in the works to grow alongside the one required for exporters that would feed data into a central portal. But the plans have so far not moved from the drawing board. In neighboring China, a track-and-trace system for drugs was derailed earlier this year as online retailers complained that the software designed by a unit of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group ($BABA) gave the firm an unfair advantage in gathering data.

- here's the story from the International Business Times

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