India’s top 300 brands of drugs including widely-used analgesics, pain relievers, anti-platelet, vitamin supplements, blood-sugar lowering medicines and contraceptive tablets will have to put QR codes on their packages from August 1. The move will ensure authenticity of drugs and enable tracing.

The National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) had last year identified brands including Dolo, Saridon Fabiflu, Ecosprin, Limcee, Sumo, Calpol, Corex syrup, Unwanted 72 and Thyronorm. They were shortlisted on the basis of their moving annual turnover value as per data from market research firm Pharmatrac.

Prior to this, the health ministry had asked the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) to shortlist top 300 drugs so that necessary amendments can be made in the drug rules for its implementation.

“All stocks manufactured after this date will have to bear QR codes,” said a senior government official.

The stored data or information would include the unique product identification code, the name of the API, brand name (if any), name and address of the manufacturer, batch number, batch size, date of manufacture, date of expiry or retesting, serial shipping container code, manufacturing licence number or import licence number and the special storage conditions required.

According to the official, this will further assert health minister Mansukh Mandaviya’s statement that India follows a zero-tolerance policy on spurious medicines.

In June this year about 71 companies were issued show-cause notices following global concerns of contaminated drugs, and strict action was taken against 18 of them.