Medical experts demand ban on PET medicinal bottles

Doctors from AIIMS, MAMC, IAP, DMA, FOGSI condemn plastic bottle packaging for medicines saying health of patients must not be compromised for the sake of profit by the industry


Experts expressed concern that some players in the pharma and plastic industry were creating hurdles in the implementation of notification.

Medical experts from various medical institutions in Delhi on February 19, 2015, joined hands to press upon the ban on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) usage for certain medical formulations as notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare within the stipulated timeframe in the wake of recent studies emanating on the various side effects. They condemned the latest move by the pharma industry to justify the use of PET bottle as safe and economical.

Research has shown that medicines packed in PET bottles are a health hazard and can have adverse effect on children, women in their reproductive age and the geriatric population. The latest evidence suggests endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in PET bottles can cause early menopause in women. As per study published in PLoS ONE journal, women with the highest levels of these chemicals in their bodies went through menopause anywhere between two and four years earlier than women with the lowest levels. The study adds to a growing body of evidence linking so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals to a range of effects in people such as cancer, recurrent abortions, and infertility.

In a recent study published in a peer reviewed journal Carcinogenesis, it was found that terephthalic acid (TPA), a major chemical precursor of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers used for the storage of food and beverages, because of hormonal action increses the chances of breast cancer and also alters the response to breast cancer drugs. The study concluded that due to DNA damage the importance of human exposure to TPA, particularly at vulnerable life stages cannot be neglected.

The matter has become so grave that the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and the Pediatric Endocrine Society alerted physicians to the possible dangers of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and encouraged them to participate in research on their effects. Experimental animal and wildlife studies have shown that such chemicals can function as disrupters of the endocrine systems, either by interaction with hormone receptors or with hormone production and metabolism.

As per Dr Seema Singhal, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, AIIMS, "PET bottles may have long term medical consequences for women, especially in the reproductive age group and children. The release of bisphenol A (BPA) and additives like di-ethylhexyl phthalate can blend with the contents and lead to health issues like impaired immune development, increased miscarriage rates, pre- term birth, low birth weight. BPA acts as a faux-estrogen, and can cause chromosomal abnormalities, birth defects and developmental disabilities in utero and childhood. Exposure to these faux-estrogens in uterus can cause early onset of puberty and increase the infant's risk of prostate or breast cancer as an adult. It may also affect the future fertility potential of a female fetus. BPA exposure is also linked with hyperactivity disorders and aggressive behaviors in young girls."

In India, PET bottles are used in 70 percent pediatric and liquid geriatric formulations. And a great majority of pregnant women are unknowingly getting exposed by use of tonics or other medicines. In a recent study conducted by Texas university published in Environmental Health Perspectives, wherein it was found that even safest BPA free PET bottles leached and it showed that more than 70 percent of the products released chemicals that acted like estrogen. And that was before they exposed the stuff to real-world conditions: simulated sunlight, dishwashing and microwaving,


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