Doctors have found proof that Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles used for storing medicines pose health hazard to people, especially women.
A group of doctors has reached out to the Union Health Ministry demanding a ban on storing medicines in these containers.
Also, medicines packed in PET bottles can have adverse effects on children, women in their reproductive age and the geriatric population.
Dr Seema Singhal, assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said, “PET bottles may have long-term medical consequences for women, especially in the reproductive age group and children.”
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She said: “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, and low birth weight. BPA acts as a faux-estrogen, and can cause chromosomal abnormalities, birth defects and developmental disabilities in uterus and childhood.”
Singhal added: “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. BPA exposure is also linked with hyperactivity disorders and aggressive behaviour in young girls.”In India, PET bottles are used in 70 per cent pediatric and liquid geriatric formulations. Doctors told the Ministry that terephthalic acid (TPA), a major chemical precursor of PET containers used for storing food and beverages, increases chances of breast cancer. Experts tested PET bottles for permissible levels of terephthalates, antimony, acetaldehyde etc. for storage at around 20 degrees Celsius.
Dr A.P. Dubey, professor and head of Pediatrics Department, Maulana Azad Medical College, said: “While the potential harmful effects of toxins and chemicals is manifold, it is time our pharmaceutical industry minimised use of plastic packaging for liquid formulation.” The Ministry had in 2014 issued a notification to stop the use of PET bottles in liquid oral formulation for pediatric use, geriatric use and for use in case of pregnant women and women of reproductive age group. The ban is to come into effect by March 2015.