Medicine capsules not a “veg vs non-veg” debate, says business chamber


New Delhi– Expressing their reservations against replacement of gelatin capsules with cellulose ones, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday urged the Health Ministry not to enter into a vegetarian and non-vegetarian debate in the matter as the capsules are consumed for their curative benefits.

According to the business chamber’s representation to the ministry, gelatin used in manufacture of empty capsules is derived from an extraction process wherein no animals are harmed or killed for this specific purpose.

“Only the leftover bones having hydroxide and collagen, which is a protein widely found in animal bones (and is not more than 2 per cent of the total value of the dead animal) is extracted through sophisticated machineries in World Health Organisation approved extraction and manufacturing plants. Accordingly it is misplaced to have any notion that gelatin capsules are non-vegetarian in origin,” it said.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), through a notice dated June 2, had sought views of various stakeholders to address all the technical issues pertaining to replacement of gelatin capsules with cellulose based capsules for encapsulation of drugs.

“A proposal has been received to replace gelatin capsules with cellulose-based capsules which are of plant origin and are safe for use as compared to animal based gelatin capsules,” it had said.

The PHD Chamber of Commerce said that gelatin capsules are totally safe for human consumption as certified by the WHO and the pharmacopoeias of US, Japan, European Union, Britain, Australia and India.

“The consumption of medicine is more curative than out of personal choice. Looking at basic fundamentals, it is not prudent to enter the vegetarian and non-vegetarian debate in this matter,” said the chamber’s director Vivek Seigell.

“In the meanwhile, soft gelatine capsules have been given a go-ahead, therefore there is no prima facie issue with the raw material and hence the replacement of the hard gelatine capsules being non-vegetarian is totally misplaced and uncalled for,” he said.

“Across the globe over 95 over of capsule formulations are gelatin capsules and even among the rest 5 per cent, hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose (HPMC) is primarily used for nutraceutical formulations. In India, only around 2 per cent capsules are HPMC based and almost all of them are nutraceuticals,” said Seigell. (IANS)


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