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Dimensions of Healthcare

Highlights of Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam comments on Innovative Packaging at the 43rd Annual General Meeting of OPPI.

Innovative Packaging

Spurious and Counterfeit medicines is an increasing concern for the patients, industry, and national policy-makers. It has become one of the key issues besieging the entire world - both the developing as well as the developed nations. The pharmaceutical sector is a strategic sector for India as it contributes to public health, generates positive effects on the Indian economy and improves the general level of welfare. It is crucial to bear in mind from the outset that the "pharmaceutical sector" in the broad sense includes a variety of other actors, ranging from suppliers of medicinal products ingredients (in particular the active pharmaceutical ingredient, "API"), importers, wholesalers (including parallel traders), retailers/pharmacies, and other traders (brokers, etc.). Concerning pharmaceuticals, reduced safety, quality, or efficacy can be life-threatening. In this respect, pharmaceuticals are distinct from many other consumer products.

Even one single case of spurious medicine is not acceptable because, in addition to putting patients at risk and undermining the public confidence in their medicines. The challenge is that wrongful duplication occurs in even low cost pharmaceutical products, many of which could be critical or life saving medicines. This makes it a very serious concern as such products not only harm the nation's citizens but also potentially percolate across the national borders to the entire world. Such occurrence also results into a very wrong perception of the country it originates and immensely damages the reputation of a nation as the source and hub of spurious / counterfeiting activity.

The only way to combat such a serious menace is by adopting science and technology measures. There are several science and technology measures, which have been successfully developed which are really good as well as cost effective. 6 These technologies can be easily integrated to provide a viable solution to the menace. Any packaged goods can use effective novel technology embedded packaging solutions which are difficult to copy yet cost effective and pose greater deterrence to the duplicator.

I have seen some company's in India who have done remarkable research and development resulting in immensely viable innovations which can be used affordably by even low cost medicines. Such innovations include technologies in material sciences as well as electronics. These innovations can be the change agent to defeat social criminals who blatantly duplicate products wrongfully, causing great harm to people at large. I had been to one such innovative company called Bilcare in December 2007. They have done some remarkable work on several technology innovations in packaging materials and have also developed a unique nonClonableID™ security solution which can be effectively used to not only combat counterfeit by providing a means to identify the genuinity of the medicine but also provide capability to secure the supply chain which is the weakest link attacked by the duplicator to push in spurious medicines. I was extremely happy when I unveiled the technology and had asked the group of scientists to work further on the technology to make it totally adaptable to packaged drug products. I was informed that lot of additional research has gone into the application and adaptation processes.

There is, therefore a need for much closer interactions between the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the technology providers to instigate continual innovation process and enable the incorporation of outcomes of these innovations in the form of customized solutions which in turn will provide a greater level of security and confidence to the patients. I urge the pharmaceutical industry to support such innovations happening in our country and partner for looking into implementing such innovations which will result in great value to our citizens.

Excerpts from the speech

To read the entire speech click here to Download PDF

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