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Holograms to curb fake medicines

WITH COUNTERFEITS accounting for close to 15-20 per cent of pharmaceutical products in the country and chances of every fourth medicine bought being fake, more and more pharmaceutical companies have started using 3-D hologram technique to protect and differentiate their products from spurious alternatives.
By GAURAV Chandra | None, Bhopal
PUBLISHED ON APR 20, 2006 01:04 PM IST

WITH COUNTERFEITS accounting for close to 15-20 per cent of pharmaceutical products in the country and chances of every fourth medicine bought being fake, more and more pharmaceutical companies have started using 3-D hologram technique to protect and differentiate their products from spurious alternatives.

Major pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithskline (GSK), Alembic, Cadila, Merind, Wockhardt Ltd, E Merck and others are already using such holograms on some of their products while other companies are following suit.

“In our Crocin tablet, the hologram incorporates features like flip-flop, kinetic effect, 2D+3D effect and micro-text, which make it very difficult for spurious manufacturers to duplicate,” said GSK’s legal and corporate affairs director Partha Mukherjee.

He pointed out that the spurious drug industry thrived mainly on consumers’ ignorance, lack of stiff penalty for indulging in such activity and finally on lax regulatory system.

Other companies using holograms include Alembic Ltd for their roxid-150mg and Althrocin of 250 and 500mg tablets, Cadila Pharmaceuticals for their Cipro 0 250, Rhone Poulenc (India) for their Phensydyl and Stematil.

Others like Knoll Pharmaceuticals, Medreich Sterilab (SB), Medrel Pharmaceuticals (India), Maneesh Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare, Raptakos Brett & Company, Unichem Laboratories and Sol Health Pharmaceuticals are also using the same technique for product security.

Most of the 3-D hologram medicines are currently available at pharma shops in the state capital. “GSK’s Crocin tablet, Merind pharmaceutical’s Decdan and Practin medicines and some other pharma products are available with 3-D holograms that easily differentiate them from imitations,” City’s pharma shop New Prime Medicos’ Nitin Gangwani told the Hindustan Times.
He added that the technique was effective and well appreciated by consumers, traders and doctors alike.

Similarly, Suresh Chawla of Moolchand Medical Shop at New Market acknowledged that many companies had started using 3-D hologram technique on their medicines. “We sell several medicines with security holograms on them,” Chawla said. He added that consumers buying products from shops located in rural and interior areas mostly faced the problem of spurious medicines with similar names.

“The cost of holograms is negligible if calculated against the business lost to spurious and counterfeit product manufacturers,” emphasised Holographic Security Marking Systems Pvt Ltd’s chairman Rohit Mistry. He maintained that most companies using holograms were upbeat about the security offered by the technique.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that counterfeit drugs account for nearly 10 per cent of all pharmaceuticals. Over the years, states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi have been notorious for being the main sources of supply of spurious drugs.

Of the counterfeit drugs seized each year, 43 per cent contain no active ingredient, 24 per cent are of poor quality, 21 per cent offer a low content of active ingredient, seven per cent contain the wrong ingredient, and five per cent have the wrong package.

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