November 04, 2011

SMS system soon to check fake drugs

Pharma companies in the country may be asked to install an SMS-activated system to counter fake drugs in the market. Companies will need to print a unique number on medicine strips which the buyers can SMS to the customer care for verification. Recommendations of a task force report expected on Friday will make it mandatory for drug-manufacturing companies to have the software that will respond to text messages from consumers. Unique ID and bar-coding are the other options before the task force and will be weighed against SMS alerts, task force chairman HG Koshia told ET. The central government-appointed task force has representatives from various ministries and drug controlling authorities. It will hold final discussions on Friday in Gandhinagar on the way ahead in tackling the counterfeit medicines menace. "We are seriously pondering on the SMS-based system to counter the counterfeit menace in the country, says Koshia who is also the commissioner of Gujarat Food & Drug Control Administration. Globally, the counterfeit drug industry is estimated at $75 billion. No figures are available for the Indian market, but a government's response in Lok Sabha last year put the number of fake drugs at 46 per 1,000. Indian government has already mandated bar-coding of all drugs meant for exports from October 1. Indian companies faced major embarrassment in December 2009 when spurious anti-malaria drugs bearing made-in-India tag were seized in Nigeria. Later, it was discovered that the drugs originated from China and the Chinese government awarded death plenty to six traders found involved. The Task Force for Tracing and Tracking of Spurious Medicines (TF-TTSM) has been set up by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare with representations from health, commerce, law and consumer affairs ministries. Drug controllers of Karnataka and two representatives from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) office too are in the task force which will submit its report in two months. Mr Koshia said, the task force will look at simplified approach that can assist patients inspect a drug without opening the package and verify the source or manufacturer. A handful of companies have voluntarily adopted different verification systems to overcome the spurious drug problem, he pointed out. Pharma associations however, are apprehensive of the cost burden that the new system will put on the manufacturers. KS Chhabra, honorary secretary, Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA), Gujarat state board, said: "Prima-facie it's a right move. The government has to modernise the drug industry as per the global norms. While the big companies have the resources, those in the small and medium segment may not be able to invest in the new system immediately." Link: Original Article

1 comment:

neelam said...

good idea
because in india many people die a fake medicine

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