The Indian Government has reportedly directed the Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), a national apex body, to develop new packaging specifications for pharmaceutical products being exported to African and Asian countries.

IIP functions under the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry and focuses on enhancing the country's packaging standards.

The decision follows the rejection of an Indian pharmaceutical order by Vietnam. India had recalled the products included in the order due to a packaging issue.

"IIP is developing packaging standards in consultation with leading pharma firms for exports to African and Asian countries."

India Department of Commerce joint secretary Sudhanshu Pandey was quoted by PTI as saying: "As directed by the government, IIP is developing packaging standards in consultation with leading pharma firms for exports to African and Asian countries.

“The new packaging standards will be ready by next year.

"The government will ensure the regulatory body will adhere to the new packaging standards. There can be no compromise on the regulatory standards, quality parameters."

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In terms of volume, India’s pharmaceutical sector is third largest in the world.

IIP director N C Saha said that the country’s pharmaceutical market is expected to increase to $55bn by 2020.

Saha was quoted by The Hindu as saying: “We are concerned about the rejection rates in unregulated and semi-regulated markets.”

Around 43% of the country’s pharma products are exported to unregulated, semi-regulated markets in Asia and Africa, reported the publication.