Cough syrups to painkillers: Bar codes on 11 habit-forming drugs soon

According to the health ministry, this is being done to stop the misuse and illicit trade of these drugs

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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The health ministry may soon introduce mandatory bar coding for 11 habit-forming drugs to stop their misuse and illicit trade, Mint reported on Tuesday. These drugs include some cough syrups, painkillers and sleeping tablets.

According to the report, these medicines include codeine-based cough syrups, fentanyl and its analogues, buprenorphine injections, tramadol, alprazolam, nitrazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, clonazepam, zolpidem and ketamine. Some of these are commonly used as sleeping pills for pain relief and to control anxiety.

Moreover, the Centre will also put QR codes on these medicines, also known as narcotics, to allow authorities to trace and track their manufacture and purchase digitally.

In August, the Centre announced a compulsory quick response (QR) code or bar code on the packaging of 300 lifesaving drugs falling under Schedule H—drugs that cannot be purchased without a doctor's prescription.

Some of these commonly used branded drugs are Allegra, Augmentin, Shelcal, Azythral, Calpol, Dolo, Fabiflu, Meftal Spas, Montair and Pan-D.

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An expert panel of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) also recommended that active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and formulations be also brought under the QR code rule, the Mint report added.

Coding of the medicines is expected to provide information like unique product identification code, name of the API, brand name, name and address of the manufacturer, batch number, batch size, and date of manufacture and expiry.

"These 11 medicines fall under the category of habit-forming drugs. Not only are they being misused, their semi-finished products or raw materials are being trafficked to the chemical industry. That is why it is important to keep surveillance on the sale and purchase of these drugs," an official was also quoted in the report as saying.

According to a 2019 report by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, around 2.5 million people in India are addicted to pharmaceutical habit-forming drugs.

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First Published: Sep 05 2023 | 10:26 AM IST

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