Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) is in the process of formulating a set of uniform standards for packaging pharma products for Indian companies. This is expected to bring about cost-effectiveness, uniformity in pricing of packaging and help boost exports.
Once finalized, the standards would be submitted to the commerce ministry for implementation. Currently, export of products is guided by the pharmacopoeia or standards of the importing country.
Explains Director IIP Dr NC Saha, “In a recent meeting with pharma exporters, it was concluded that there is a need to have a standardization on the packaging of the drug which will bring about rationalization in terms of costs especially for blister packaging, strip packaging or packaging cartons. Drugs might be low cost or expensive but packaging cost can be offered uniformity with the setting of uniform standards in packaging.”
Besides this, the issue of simplification of bar coding in case of small, intermediate and bulk packs is also being followed as a part of the standardisation, he added.
IIP also suggested the industry regarding printing expiry date behind each tablet in the strip pack. At present, the expiry date is printed in one corner of the strip along with the batch number and date of manufacturing. However, many patients end up tearing that part. "Once you start taking the tablets off, it is difficult to read the expiry date and batch number," Dr Saha said, adding that though there will be an increase in the printing cost but it will be a boon for the consumers.
"I have also written to the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India to implement printing of expiry date on the back of each tablet as early as possible," Saha said, citing the example of pharma major Zydus Cadila that has started printing the expiry date on each tablet for their product Inditel, a medicine prescribed for blood pressure with the objective to provide better comfort and safety measures while taking medicines.
According to experts, after the date of expiry, efficacy of any medicine is completely lost. While it is very rare that a patient would suffer from a severe side effect after popping an expired medicine, it definitely has indirect side effects.