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Drugs to carry barcodes and more secure packaging

The European Commission has announced proposals to improve the European pharmaceutical market, providing more information to patients and protecting them from counterfeit medicines

The European Commission has announced proposals to improve the European pharmaceutical market, providing more information to patients and protecting them from counterfeit medicines.

The Commission is proposing the introduction of mandatory safety features such as seals on packages and serial codes, in a bid to protect consumers from counterfeit medicines.

A further measure would require drug manufacturers to audit the companies that manufacture the active ingredients in their products. Counterfeit drugs are a growing problem and global sales are expected to reach €58bn by 2010.

Presently, access to information about products differs across different countries in Europe. It is proposed that the industry should be permitted to publish non-promotional product information in health-related publications or on the internet.

Authorities in each country would be responsible for monitoring this information to ensure it does not lead to direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicine.

Commission vice president and commissioner for enterprise and industry, Günter Verheugen, said that Europeans should be informed about available medicines and treatments "since their health is at stake."

11th December 2008

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