ASU exporters seek exemption from barcoding of their products

Ramesh Shankar, MumbaiWednesday, April 13, 2011, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The exporters of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) medicines in the country have urged the union commerce ministry to exempt these industries from the scope of the ministry's notification dated January 10 this year, which mandates the introduction of track and trace system, as counterfeit, mis-branded or spurious drugs is not an occurrence in traditional medicines.

In a submission to the ministry, Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council's chairman for Ayurved, Siddha, Unani and Herbal Panel Ranjit Puranik  said that the widespread counterfeit, mis-branded or spurious drugs is not an issue in traditional medicine. The primary reason for introducing traceability and bar-coding to prevent entry of large scale spurious and mis-branded drugs into the global pharmaceutical trade and not traditional medicinal formulations as such, he said.

The ASU exporters said that the measure of bar-coding primary, secondary and tertiary packaging relates to drugs and pharmaceutical products while majority of the Ayurvedic formulations are exported as food, food supplements, dietary supplements and personal care products widely classified as cosmetics. However, Ayurved, Siddha and Unani formulations are licensed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and thereby would be within the purview of such sophisticated tracking technology, which is totally unnecessary.

Such products which are exported and classified other than pharmaceutical drugs, this entire exercise is wasteful, unwarranted and can only seek to create confusion at the hands of importers and importing distribution channels which may use a different bar-coding technology which is applicable for mass scale distribution in the grocery and supermarket channels, the ASU exporters argue.

Besides, they argue that a lot of merchant importers are involved with the export of ASU formulations wherein the manufacturer may not even be aware that their products are being exported. Naturally to comply with this Notification, the manufacturers will embark on bar-coding even in their domestic products which in context of ASU products is also distributed to the smallest retail classification – your corner panwala. This illustration will show the unnecessary impact and over-sophistication of this stipulation brings when put in perspective with reality as it stands today, it is totally not required.