Condot Systems – Countering the counterfeits

Serialization & track & trace

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Condot
Pharmaceutical manufacturing line. Photo courtesy - Wikimedia Commons https://goo.gl/images/NyLiaI

Counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs are increasing worldwide and have breached the legitimate drug supply chain in both developed (Europe and America) and developing regions and countries (India and South Asia). Since counterfeit medicines pose a massive threat to the global population and the pharmaceutical sector, ensuring the integrity of products is necessary. This is why pharmaceutical companies need an effective and comprehensive solution to combat fake medications.

Mumbai-based Condot Systems offers products and solutions for end-to-end tracking and tracing of products. This starts with serialization, marking, batch coding, variable data printing, and then goes on to transport and vision systems. With these solutions, the company meets the demands of the printing and packaging of food, FMCG, and pharmaceutical products.

According to Kinal Chiniwala, vice president of Operations at Condot Systems, the company designs GS1 track and trace solutions, keeping in mind the pharmaceutical industry’s requirements. The GS1 track and trace solutions comply with each country’s regulations.

Condot has a comprehensive range of variable data print and verification systems for all types of packaging. “We have solutions for coding and marking on porous and non-porous materials with thermal inkjet technology (aqueous, solvent, and UV curable inkjet inks). Our track and trace solutions (hardware and software) are compatible with manual, semi-automatic, or fully-automatic production lines,” says Chiniwala.

Jus printing a QR code is not enough

CSPL 800 PV e1597144363856
CSPL-800 “Print & Verification System” is a fast and reliable system to fulfill all requirements of global pharma serialization.

Since 2011, the Indian government has been trying to introduce technologies such as QR codes for pharma products. These QR codes can help track and trace the supply chain of drugs while minimizing the chances of spurious, sub-standard, and counterfeit drugs reaching patients. In 2019, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) issued a draft notification mandating the use of the QR code on the label, at each level of packaging to facilitate tracking and tracing. More recently, the Government set up a committee to fine-tune the modalities and attribute a unique QR code on medicine packs to ensure their authenticity and ease of tracking.

Commenting on this recent development, Chiniwala asserts, “It is a must to keep spurious drugs out of the supply chain, but it will not suffice to print a QR code on the pack merely. There should be a mechanism whereby consumers can find out a drug is spurious before buying or consuming it.”

Serialization

Serialization demands that pharmaceutical manufacturers invest in advanced technologies, adapt their current processes and systems, and ensure that the entire working line understands the new regulatory environment in which they are functioning. However, observers say that India’s regulations are less demanding and less stringent than the US and Europe.

CSPL 1850 PV e1597144139728
CSPl 1850 flat carton Print and Verification system for pharmaceutical serialization and pharmaceutical packaging for track and trace

Chiniwala says that Indian manufacturers focus on buying equipment to comply with current regulations in force. “This is not their fault because the solutions offered to them are also not future-ready.” While she agrees that pharma companies face spurious supply challenges, she suggests a need for stricter government regulations and enforcement. “The Government is only focusing on controlling the price of the drug, but the action on the spurious drug supply chain is still missing.”

Moreover, she is apprehensive of the overall acceptability of serialization, anticounterfeiting, and track and trace solutions. “Market readiness is not there due to the absence of concrete guidelines. As of now, only exporters are following the regulatory framework. The market will take time to stabilize and understand the appropriate selection according to need and future readiness.”

Technology – a game-changer

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Kinal Chiniwala, vice president of Operations at Condot Systems

As many countries are moving towards adopting tighter control over drugs, technology could be a game-changer. According to Chiniwala, rapidly changing regulations pose serious threats to pharmaceutical companies, and only solutions equipped with the latest technology could save them. “Just selecting equipment on the price will not help the market. In such conditions, for every change in rules, their equipment will not be compatible.” She believes that the regulations will keep changing based on newer requirements.

Condot has over 29 different models of track and trace solutions to fit customer needs and production line requirements. The company spends over 30% of its net profit on R&D. “In software, Condot has developed track and trace solutions that comply with the Government regulations and help to ease out the production floor to adopt these,” says Chinwala.

Competing with local pricing

As mentioned above, a challenge in implementing serialization solutions is competing with local pricing. Chiniwala explains, “Since India is a cost-sensitive market, we can easily find suppliers who want to supply quantity without considering the quality.” However, she is hopeful of a change in the current scenario. Both suppliers and buyers understand that there is a better opportunity for quality, saying, “The company is growing with a vision to improve quality and become the first preference in the market.”

Easier to adopt, better productivity with minimum rejection ratios, a wider variety of machines suitable for different products and sizes, future readiness for changing compliances, and minimum requirements of after-sales service, are critical differentiation factors for Condot. Already operating in 38 countries, it aims to expand its business in other jurisdictions.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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Technical Editor - Mandeep Kaur is working with IPP Group and holding editorial responsibilities for the IndiFoodBev and PSA Healthcare platforms. Earlier she handled editorial responsibilities of food, beverage, and agriculture publications at another publisher. A gold-medalist in M Tech (Food Technology), she has hands-on experience in operating different types of instruments related to physico-chemical testing of grains and flour. She has worked at Evalueserve in the Intellectual Property (IP) division for more than three years handling projects in the life sciences domain.