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Plastic bottles safe for packing drugs, NGT told

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New Delhi: An expert committee on Monday said plastic bottles made of PET (poly ethylene terephthalate) material were safe for packaging medicines.

“There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that use of PET or additive like antimony for pharmaceutical packaging may leach substances beyond limits that pose threat to human health,” the panel told the National Green Tribunal (GRT) in a report.

The panel, set up by the health ministry in August 2015 under the chairmanship of former biotechnology secretary M.K. Bhan, asserted that PET could be used safely as a packaging material for drugs under a regulatory system and process.

“PET does not require use of phthalates or any plasticizers in the manufacturing process,” the report said.

The panel’s finding will be a major relief to the Rs.4,000 crore PET packaging industry, as the pharma sector uses 16 percent (100,000 tonnes) of the 600,000 tonnes of PET produced every year.

The panel was set up to assess the health and environmental impact of using PET or plastic container for packaging drugs after NGO Him Jagriti Uttaranchal Welfare Society petitioned the tribunal that leaching of heavy metals, phthalates and PET was harmful to the environment.

The tribunal directed the ministry to form the panel to study science behind the issue.

The panel also recommended better standards and strengthening regulatory guidelines by prescribing specific methods for disposal of pharmaceutical packaging wastes.

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