All medicines could come with QR codes

In the recent meeting it was decided that one QR code should be there,

Picture: Pixabay

NEW DELHI: Medicine packs will soon have to bear a unique quick response (QR) code in an attempt to ensure authenticity and enable tracking. A committee has been set up to fine-tune the modalities, people aware of the matter said.

QR codes help in tracking and tracing the origin of drugs and minimise the chances of spurious, sub-standard or counterfeit drugs reaching patients. Representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, Niti Aayog, commerce ministry, Department of Pharmaceuticals and the health ministry met last week and decided to settle the matter and issue a notification to this effect soon.

“A committee has been set up under the health secretary which will come out with the report in the next 21 days,” the people said. The government has been trying to introduce QR codes since 2011 but it hasn’t been implemented. Pharma companies and lobby groups had expressed concern over multiple sets of directions regarding tracing and tracking being issued by various departments and had asked for a single QR code system.

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“There was too much confusion regarding this. Finally, the issue will be settled. In the recent meeting it was decided that one QR code should be there,” one person said.

Last year, India’s drug regulator issued a draft notification mandating the use of the QR code for active pharmaceutical ingredients. It was proposed that every API (bulk drug) manufactured or imported in India should bear a QR code on its label at each level of packaging that stores data or information readable with software applications to facilitate tracking and tracing.

The stored data or information would include the unique product identification code, the name of the API, brand name (if any), name and address of the manufacturer, batch number, batch size, date of manufacture, date of expiry or retesting, serial shipping container code, manufacturing licence number or import licence number and special storage conditions required, among others.

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