Gelatin or cellulose capsules: Health Ministry expert panel invites views

An expert committee constituted by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has invited suggestions on replacing gelatin capsules with cellulose-based capsules which are of plant origin.

Published: 11th June 2017 06:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2017 06:29 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Are shells of capsules that we consume turning veggie? Are gelatin capsules, derived from animal sources, going to be replaced with plant-based cellulose shells? You have 12 more days to give your views on it. An expert committee constituted by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has invited suggestions on replacing gelatin capsules with cellulose-based capsules which are of plant origin. 

A notice from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) office, signed by member secretary of Expert committee, stated that a proposal has been received to replace gelatin capsules with cellulose ones which are reportedly safe for use. When asked who has filed the proposal, officials from Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) cited the name of a Union minister.

Gelatin, which is used to prepare shells of capsules, is derived from animal sources including bones, said officials in the Telangana Drug Control Administration. There are two forms of capsule shells: Hard and soft shells. 

The notice issued on June 2 added that, “Ministry of Health and Family Welfare vide order dated 20.03.2017 has constituted an Expert Committee to address all technical issues pertaining to replacement of gelatin capsules with cellulose-based capsules for encapsulation of drugs.” The committee asked for views of stakeholders including manufacturers, marketers of Hydroxypropyl methycellulose capsules, NGOs, to take a considered view in the matter.

Meanwhile, industry representatives said: “Sources in India Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) said that throughout the world capsule shells are made of gelatin, and our export markets will get affected if it is replaced with Cellulose.  This will totally disrupt our export market. Till date, there is no adverse reaction because of use of gelatin. Market consumption of gelatin capsules in India is 120 billion. Cellulose hardly constitutes two percent of the capacity.” 

Decision will be taken at the earliest: CDSCO 

Officials in the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), meanwhile, said that they are serious about the proposal. “We want earliest decision on this. We have already put the proposal before an expert committee who will be examining it,” officials said.

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