New Delhi: The government on Thursday extended the deadline again to affix barcodes on primary level packaging by pharmaceutical companies till further orders.

Barcode helps in tracking and tracing origin of drugs, which minimises the chances of genuine medicines being considered spurious, sub-standard or counterfeit.

“The requirement of affixing barcodes on primary level packaging was to be effective from 1 July 2014. Now this date has been deferred till a new date is notified," Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a public notice.Initially, the requirement of affixing barcodes on packaging was to take effect from July 2013.

Primary level packaging is the first-level product packaging such as the bottle, can, jar, tube, that contains the item sold.

The government had asked pharma firms to build track and trace capability for exports using barcode technology at three levels of packaging primary, secondary and tertiary.

India exports over $10 billion worth of drugs annually. The government wants to increase that figure manifold in the next few years. There is a big market for generics in the developed world.

Industry experts say that the only way Indian pharma firms can tap global markets is by ensuring quality, and barcoding will help in that.

Further, the DGFT said that mono cartons, which were treated as part of primary level packaging, would now be treated as secondary level packaging.

The requirement of affixing bar codes on tertiary level and secondary level packaging has already been implemented since October 2011 and January 2013 respectively.

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