Court upholds govt order on drug barcoding [India]
CHENNAI: The legality of the Centre's insistence that drug and medicine exporting units must barcode pharmaceutical products has been upheld by the Madras high court.
Dismissing a writ petition filed by the Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry (SSI) and the Indian Drugs Manufacturers' Association against the notifications dated January 10 and June 30, 2011, Justice Venkataraman said: "In my considered view, this court cannot sit over the policy decision of the government, unless otherwise it was shown that it was arbitrary and was tainted with mala fide."
On June 9, 2010, the Centre finalized various regulatory measures including barcoding of drugs and medicines to contain a global campaign against fake and spurious drugs being manufactured here. Noting that a concerted campaign had been unleashed against Indian pharmaceutical products being exported to various countries, the meeting apprehended the role of multinational companies affected by Indian success as entities behind the smear campaign.
In order to counter such a campaign and also show to the world that counterfeit drugs were not emanating from India, the directorate general of foreign trade issued guidelines including mandatory barcoding of drugs and medicines, in January and June 2011.
M Ravindran, senior counsel for the petitioner-associations, said that entrusting the barcoding works to a particular company would entail huge costs to the manufacturing companies and that countries importing drugs and medicines from India were not laying down barcoding as a condition.
Additional solicitor-general of south India P Wilson, however, defended the government move stating that the Centre thought it fit to impose certain conditions on export of drugs and medicines in furtherance of the trade reputation of India, and that the policy decision of the government shall not be ordinarily interfered with by the court.
Concurring with his submissions and rejecting the claims of additional costs on manufacturers, Justice Venkataraman said the paramount consideration of the Government of India was not just export but export of quality products, keeping in mind the trade reputation of India.