Now Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa would follow Gujarat's model of issuing online product licenses in the bulk drug segment.
The state Food and Drugs Control Authority (FDCA) has shared the know-how and the experience of implementing an online drug licensing system with the above states who are now keen to follow Gujarat's footsteps.
"States like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh are in line to take the software from us. The software was developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) who did not charge us for the same, and therefore, have urged us to share the software with other states", informed H G Koshia, commissioner, Gujarat FDCA. He added that the system of issuing online licenses started earlier this year, claiming that Gujarat is the first state in the country to do so. Any manufacturer can now apply for a product license online, the system would process the application and the license would be issued online as well. Once the process is complete, a system generated sms (short messaging service) would go to the applicant. "We have digitised the entire process making it speedy and transparent", Koshia said.
The FDCA issues close to 500 fresh licenses every month. There are 3164 registered manufacturers in the state including 2047 allopathic units, 681 ayurvedic units, 429 cosmetics units and seven homeopathic manufacturers. There are 27,635 registered pharmacy outlets across the state.
Currently, the process has been made mandatory for bulk drug applications, the drugs control authority plans to extend it to drug formulations as well.
It can be mentioned here that Gujarat is also the first state that started an sms-alert system for spurious drugs last year. The online drug alert system warns retailers through a system generated sms sent to their registered mobile numbers. The software for this application was also developed by the NIC. "We have already managed to cover around 80 per cent of the total database of around 29,000 drug establishments in the state which includes wholesalers apart from retail pharmacy outlets.
In order to step up the process of vigilance and inspection, the FDCA has filled up 65 vacant posts of drug inspectors in the last six months with the help of the state government and the public service commission. "Around 30-40 per cent posts were always lying vacant earlier forcing inspectors from adjoining districts to investigate complaints of spurious drugs. Now each district would be self-sufficient to look into such allegations", Koshia claimed. In order to support the various e-governance initiatives taken up by the FDCA, the state health department has raised the planned budgetary allocation for the agency to Rs 21 crore this year from Rs 16 crore last fiscal.