The Indian government issued a three-phase barcode labeling mandate back in 2010-11 for manufacturers and exporters from the pharmaceuticals industry. This was a direct result of counterfeit or spurious drugs seized by African regulatory authorities that had “Made in India” labels pasted on them but were found to have originated in another country. The need to enforce regulations to ensure source traceability and prevent unwarranted liability became a critical requirement for the government. While they have already enforced barcodes on tertiary and secondary level packaging, several media outlets reported that the upcoming deadline to affix barcodes on primary level packaging has been extended by a year – deferred from July 1, 2013 to the same date in 2014. This packaging includes the container (tube, jar, bottle or can) which comes in direct contact with the pharmaceutical product. Despite the additional financial and operational burden vendors and their partners have to incur, this is a significant step in curbing and potentially eliminating the spread of counterfeit drugs by increasing visibility into the supply chain. Yes, the cut-off date for doing so has been extended. But, as India’s pharmaceutical exports (currently pegged at over Rs. 80,000 crores or USD 10 Billion) outpace and outgrow domestic sales this will help local manufacturers actively counter allegations of selling inferior products.
We have discussed the horsemeat scandal in our blogs and the growing potential for stricter traceability mandates in the food industry. And there is always news about changes to labeling requirements in the heavily regulated pharmaceuticals industry across the globe. How does this impact enterprise investment in and adoption of barcoding solutions? Our conversations with leading printer and scanner vendors indicate that while regulations and legislation – from government bodies, industry groups or even lead users – are critical to establishing awareness and elevating interest levels from enterprises in the capabilities of barcode technologies, impact on vendors’ revenue streams from this opportunity is spread out over time. As industries and their participants work to enhance their visibility into the commercial value chain, VDC expects to witness a heightened market need for track-and-trace enabling solutions.