Noting that healthcare products are one of the most commonly targeted industry for counterfeiters, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said vocal for local will be an extremely potent tool in India's fight against illicit trade.
Addressing FICCI Cascade's international conference on the 'Impact of Counterfeiting and Smuggling on Personal Health and Safety', Vardhan said businesses and industries must come together and partner with the government in becoming a greater force in fighting this growing threat with the ultimate goal of keeping consumers safe.
Speaking on the benefits of self-reliant India, Vardhan said as India starts to produce strong domestic brands and gradually reduces its dependence on foreign products avenues for profiteering by smugglers and counterfeits will sooner become limited.
"Vocal for Local will be an extremely potent tool in our fight against illicit trade," he said.
"Illegal operators are taking advantage of the pandemic by providing illicit alternatives of essentials and non-essential items both online and offline. As the current pandemic has sadly illustrated that healthcare products will continue to be one of the most commonly targeted industries for counterfeiters. This is the problem that impacts patients and consumers across the globe," he said.
Amid the chaos created by the COVID-19, Vardhan said illicit players have used the pandemic for their nefarious activities causing significant damage to the economy of the nation, health and safety of people worldwide.
He said various technologies like barcodes, holograms, radio frequency devices are available to protect consumers.
The government has taken steps to protect consumers' health and safety from dangerous counterfeiting and smuggling, Vardhan said.
"These technologies although provide considerable protection they have certain limitations. They only help in general detection and authentication," he said.
Vardhan said the methods by which spurious misbranded and adulterated drugs enter the distribution channel has become increasingly complex.
"Weak points in the distribution processes of pharmaceutical products provide an avenue for entry of such products in the supply chain. This is an issue where industry players can play an active role to help identify and plug these loopholes," he added.
"There is an urgent need for our citizens to better understand the difference between fake and original goods. We need to highlight the fact that smuggling, counterfeit trade and piracy hold back progress, the health of the economy, raise the cost of goods, lead to tax evasion, hamper job creation and create safety hazards for consumers. From the economic point of view the world seems to have changed as the reset button has been pressed," he said.
More inter-governmental efforts and public private alliances are needed in identifying approaches needed for the development of a holistic strategy, he added.