India: counterfeit drugs damaging bottle manufacturers

Recent reports from the All India Glass Manufacturers“ Federation stated that the Indian glass industry claims to be losing 15% of revenues caused by counterfeiters collecting used bottles and other …

Recent reports from the All India Glass Manufacturers“ Federation stated that the Indian glass industry claims to be losing 15% of revenues caused by counterfeiters collecting used bottles and other packaging material to repack their spurious products. “It is a major problem for us and we are unable to find out a solution, which is foolproof and which helps both the packaging sector and the pharmaceutical sector in checking the spread of counterfeit products,” Arun Kumar, spokesman of the All India Glass Manufacturers“ Federation said. “The food products sector too is facing the same problem,” said Kumar. The Indian glass container industry is worth around Rs 4,500 crore, with beers and spirits making up the bulk of this, at around 55%, while food & beverages and pharmaceuticals accounting for 15% each; and the remaining part being cosmetics & perfumery and exports. “Reuse of bottles is allowed in some sectors, like soft drinks and beers. But, the damage is more in the pharmaceutical sector since the bottles can“t be reused. All the used empty bottles have to be recycled. The reuse is happening only at the facilities of the spurious drug manufacturers,” Kumar said. “The empty glass bottles are picked up either by kabadis or rag pickers. These are then washed in unhygienic conditions. Unscrupulous businessmen use empty glass bottles of reputed brands to sell their inferior products,” he explained. The glass container industry is expected to grow at 8-10% per annum, but counterfeits are eating away roughly 15% of the revenues. “For us, the impact is significant since we also invest on moulds for making the bottles for our customers,” said Kumar. According to Kumar, Hindustan National Glass is the leading glass container maker in the country with about 50% market share, followed by Piramal Glass (15%), AGI Glasspac (10%), Haldyn Glass (5%), Excel Glass (5%), Universal Glass (4%) and others (11%). In a bid to check the reuse of glass bottles, the Indian glass industry is now working on a strategy to have a traceability system on glass bottles. “For now, we have devised a system. The bottles will have the quarter of the year in which it is made in Roman numbers and the year of manufacture. A consumer should look at the bottom of the bottle before buying a product. If the bottle says IV and 09, it means the bottle is manufactured in the fourth quarter of 2009. If a product is packed in this bottle and sold in say 2011, it should give rise to some doubts over the product,” Kumar explained.