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4 June 2018Asia

India launches project to help consumers identify counterfeit drugs via text message

India’s Drug Technical Advisory Board, which advises the government, has reportedly approved a “track and trace” proposal that will allow Indian consumers to identify whether their medicine is genuine simply by sending a text message.

According to India-based The Economic Times on May 24, the top 300 pharmaceutical companies will print unique 14-digit codes onto their best-selling products within the next three months. These numbers will be unique to each package and bottle of medication sold in the market.

The labels will also come with a telephone number printed on them, allowing consumers to message the provided number with the 14-digit code for the drug.  The user will then receive details about the drug, such as the name and address of the manufacturer, the batch number, and an expiry date.

A senior government official told The Economic Times that the initiative has been designed to provide the public with trust and to ensure the quality of pharmaceutical products. In addition, it will help inspectors track and catch counterfeit versions of drugs in the market.

The official added that the brands taking part in the project will be selected based on the market size. While some of the details are still being refined, work is reportedly underway to collate a list of the products.

According to the World Health Organization ( WHO), there are up to two billion people worldwide that cannot get medicines crucial to their health, which provides counterfeiters with an opportunity to introduce falsified products to the market. Also according to the WHO, one in ten medical products circulating in low and middle-income countries is of poor quality or is counterfeit.

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