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Exclusive | ‘Dawa Ka Aadhaar Card’: Modi Govt’s Prescription to Promote Barcodes on Medicines

“Dawa ka Aadhar Card” – this is how the Narendra Modi government plans to publicise its latest move of making QR codes or barcodes mandatory on top-selling brands of medicines, has learnt.

The union health ministry, last month, inserted schedule H2 to mandate barcodes on the medicines of the top 300 brands. The move aims to ensure authenticity and traceability through the manufacturing and supply chain and will be in effect from August 1, 2023.

According to two government sources, the initiative will be labelled as “Aadhaar card for medicines”.

“These QR codes carry all information of medicines including a unique product identification code, proper and generic name of the drug, brand name, name and address of the manufacturer, batch number, date of manufacturing, date of expiry, and manufacturing licence number,” said the first source privy to the development. “This is similar to our Aadhaar card which carries every minute detail including name, demographic, and biometric information.”

The government plans to promote the initiative – along with two other schemes, Pharma Sahi Daam (to complain about overcharging of medicines) and Pharmacovigilance (to report side effects of medicines) – at chemist outlets across India. The move will spread awareness among consumers about these three schemes.

“We are planning to make these hoardings and banners mandatory at all retail chemist outlets across India,” said a source.

In order to put banners on all pharmacy outlets across India, the official said, some changes will also be needed in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules.

Top-selling popular medicines in the Indian pharma market such as Allegra, Dolo, Augmentin, Saridon, Calpol, and Thyronorm are among 300 brands that will roll out new packs with barcodes in the market.

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