Gujarat will be the first state in the country to implement an online drug alert system for retailers through short messaging service (SMS). The service, which is awaiting approval from the state health department, will enable pharmaceutical stockists and druggists to receive an SMS from the Gujarat Food and Drugs Control Authority (FDCA) about sub-standard drugs on the basis of test reports at its drug testing laboratory.
“We have been working on this project for the last three years and have already spent close to Rs 30 lakh on developing the software,” said HG Koshia, commissioner, FDCA. “We have done three test runs of the system, and are waiting for the final approval from the state health department,” he added.
The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed the software and Vodafone is likely to be the mobile service provider.
The service is aimed at helping consumers, ensuring their safety and making the system more transparent. “It will alert retailers and wholesalers about sub-standard drugs as soon any discrepancy is detected. There are around 27,000 pharma outlets in the state, which can stop sale of unsafe drugs once aberrations are detected,” Koshia said.
Meanwhile, the FDCA has already implemented an online licensing system for manufacturers. “We have made a database of all license-holders across 25 districts in the state. As soon as new licences are granted, the data comes to the central FDCA system,” Koshia said. As of now, FDCA accepts online applications from active-pharmaceutical ingredients (API) manufacturers, but it is planning to extend that to formulations manufacturers as well.
“We have also shared our experience of online licensing with other states like Maharashtra, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. They too are planning to implement it,” he said.