Zydus Cadila launches verification app, initially for COVID drugs

Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila has rolled out a new app for patients called Zydus Verify that aims to protect them from falsified versions of its medicines.

Developed with Hyperlink InfoSystem, the platform follows a tried and tested format in countries struggling with high levels of medicines falsification.

A unique code is printed on each pack of medicines, concealed under a scratch-off panel, which when revealed can be scanned by the customer using the app on a smartphone. The Zydus Verify app will then display a popup to indicate whether the medicine is genuine or fake.

For now, the app – which can be downloaded from the Apple store and Google Play – is only available for use in India, according to Zydus Cadila. It works in a similar way to systems previously developed by the likes of mPedigree, Sproxil and PharmaSecure.

The rollout of the app comes as India is struggling to contend with rising levels of COVID-19 that is being shadowed by a spike in reports of counterfeit medicines, vaccines and testing kits.

There were more than 50 cases of pharma counterfeiting reported between March and December 2020, according to figures from the Authentication Solution Providers’ Association (ASPA).

Even before the pandemic falsification of medicines was a problem however, and in 2017 a World Health Organization (WHO) report concluded that around "10.5 per cent of medicines sold in low and middle-income countries, including India, are substandard and falsified."

Zydus Cadila is the fifth largest pharmaceutical company in India, and a major supplier of generic medicines worldwide. The company is a supplier of remdesivir – an antiviral for COVID-19 originally developed by Gilead Sciences which has been targeted by fraudsters.

"The problem of counterfeit drugs undermines the painstaking efforts that are put in to ensure that the end user or patients receive a product that is safe and manufactured with the highest standards of quality excellence," said the company's managing director Sharvil Patel.

"Counterfeit drugs can be harmful as they may not have the desired outcome and could also be life threatening in some cases," he added.

According to the company, its Remdac remdesivir brand as well as Virafin (pegylated interferon alpha 2b) – which is also being used to treat COVID-19 in India – will be the first products to carry the new scratch code, with others to follow in the coming months. Packs with the new labels will be available starting third week of June.

The company has also just been given the green light to start phase 3 trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate ZyCov-D in 30,000 volunteers.

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