Indian drugmakers are in a dogfight with Indian regulators who have proposed banning the use of PET plastic bottles for some drug packaging. If they have to move to glass, it will add up to 30% to their transportation cost per bottle, they have complained.
The government asked for industry feedback after issuing a draft rule in September that would ban the use of PET packaging for drugs for children, elderly, pregnant women and women of reproductive age, The Financial Express explains. Officials offered up the proposal at the behest of a not-for-profit that argued PET plastic can leach cancer-causing toxins in extreme temperatures and if stored for extended periods.
And comment is what it has gotten from the Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA), which represents about 700 Indian-owned drugmakers in the country. "Transportation costs and packaging costs of corrugated boxes will drastically increase due to increased weight of glass bottles and during transport breakages will add to the costs," the IDMA said in a letter to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, The Financial Express reported. The letter also suggested the glass industry in India may not be able to meet demand if the switch is ordered, a contention that the glass industry disputed.
One drug company official told the publication anonymously that the government was responding to studies from Western countries that have raised questions but pointed out that the U.S. and Europe have not banned PET packaging.
The FDA has changed its regulations to ban the use of "certain BPA-based materials in baby bottles, sippy cups, and infant formula packaging." BPA, which is in soda bottles and cans, is another chemical over which there have been safety concerns. That happened after the industry has largely abandoned those uses. A recent study has found that blood pressure goes up in people who regularly drink from bottles containing BPA, according to The New York Times.
U.S. drug packaging companies like West Pharmaceutical Services ($WST) have been drawn to India because of its rapid growth and low costs.