New Delhi, Mar 26 (DHNS): Plastic bottles are safe to pack and store medicines, according to an expert panel that was set up by the health ministry.The panel was set up after the ministry received complaints on the risks associated with plastic bottles used by the pharmaceutical industry.
Headed by M K Bhan, the former secretary of the department of biotechnology, the panel found “no conclusive and reproducible evidence” to suggest that these bottles leach out any harmful chemicals in the drugs that they contain.
The Bhan panel’s recommendations counter a set of draft rules issued by the health ministry in September 2014 prohibiting the use of PET (polyethylene terephalate) bottles for packaging drug formulations for paediatric and geriatric use as well as medicines for women.
The National Green Tribunal, too, is hearing a separate petition seeking the ban on PET bottles for storing medicines.
The 2014 rules notified by the Health Ministry were based on the recommendations of the Drug Technical Advisory Board, which was asked by the ministry to consider a representation from Dehradun-based non-government outfit “Him Jagriti” that red-flagged the harmful effects of PET bottles and urged the government to ban these bottles for drug storage.
Pharmaceutical industries commonly use either glass or plastic bottles. Plastics are preferred as they are light-weight, unbreakable and collapsible. The common raw material is PET and few other similar compounds.
After draft rules were framed, the government received representations from the pharmaceutical industry and PET container manufacturers association, questioning those rules.
This led the NDA government to create the Bhan panel, which was asked by the Health Ministry to review the entire issue afresh taking note of all scientific information and available literature.
The panel having several senior scientists as its members found no scientific evidence to back up the concerns raised by the NGO.
“Within a robust regulatory system and process with clearly defined standards and requirements, the use of PET as packaging material for pharmaceutical can be practised with the assurance of safety,” the panel says in its recommendations submitted to the Drugs Controller General of India submitted last week.