MULTAN - A proposal to print barcode on the packing of all medicines is under consideration and the Punjab Government is likely to approve and implement it very soon, The Nation has learnt.

Source in the Punjab Health Department disclosed the barcode would work as a tracking device to monitor the medicines from manufacturing to consumption. “The need for such an initiative was felt to check ever increasing business of fake medicines. It will also address many other issues like medicine theft from state run hospitals and price hike,” sources added.

The business of counterfeit medicines is on the rise due to absence of any proper check. Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik had told National Assembly in 2010 that about 50 percent of total medicines in the country were fake. A counterfeit heart medicine given to the patients in a state run hospital in Lahore killed 120 people in 2012. An estimate made by the World Health Organization (WHO) says about one million people die annually due to fake drugs.

“The Punjab Government has decided to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards counterfeiting in medicine manufacturing. A model drug testing lab has been set up in Lahore and at least three more will be established in other districts,” sources revealed.

They said that the medicine manufacturers would be asked to print barcode on the packing of all medicines which would help monitor the movement of drugs from the factory to the pharmacy shelf. They added that the packing of all objects including syrups, injections and pills would carry a barcode. “The paper work is almost done. As soon as the summary gets final, it will be sent to the Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif for final approval,” they said.