Economic Times Bureau | 10 Jul, 2013
NEW DELHI: The government is constituting an expert panel to examine if plastic and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles used for packaging pharma products are safe. The Drug Technical Advisory Board, the apex body on drug safety, has recommended in a recent meeting that a scientific expert committee should examine whether the use of plastic or PET bottle for primary packaging pose a risk to the public health.
Pharma companies are increasingly preferring plastic and PET bottles over glass containers to package cough syrups, antacids, vitamins as these are shatter proof, light weight and reduce wastage .
Civil society organizations such as Dehradun headquartered Him Jagriti have urged the government to completely ban plastic and PET bottles in case of atleast primary packaging for pharma products citing studies that claim that leaching of plastic leads to contamination of stored products by releasing harmful chemicals from the packages, especially when these products are stored under harsh and variable temperature conditions.
“The use of PET and plastic bottles for pharma product poses immense risk to public health. Our research from published sources shows that leaching becomes faster as temperature soars and packaging gets older. There are many scientific studies to prove that leached elements can cause several diseases including cancer,” said Ajay Jugran, president of Him Jagriti.
Many chemical additives that give plastic its desirable properties are those very ones which can cause grave adverse impact on human health, he adds.
“This impact includes direct toxicity for instance in case of lead, cadmium, mercury. Other harmful chemicals that could leach from plastic packaging include carcinogens such as diethylhexyl phthalate,” Jugran claimed.
Top pharma packaging companies say that drugmakers are supposed to use plastics, PVC material different from what is used for storing other inedible things like phenyl .
In India, the onus of getting the packaging right lies with the pharma companies, who are responsible for ensuring that the product and its packaging are safe.