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Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai May 17 , 2021
The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has dismissed a proposal regarding labeling of drugs containing components of non-vegetarian origin with a red mark.

The DTAB, which held its 86th meeting on April 13, 2021, was apprised that a representation had been received regarding the labeling of drugs containing components of non-vegetarian origin with a red mark.

The representation has pointed out the deliberations/recommendations of various committees including DTAB and Expert committee constituted under Prof C K Kokate on the matter and urged the Union Health Ministry, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and DTAB to conduct a detailed study and examine the possibility of creating a list of nonessential or non-life saving drugs for which the marking of vegetarian or non-vegetarian can be implemented without affecting public health and safety.

It also suggested to set up an expert committee to examine the feasibility of marking non-vegetarian and vegetarian drugs with a red and green mark respectively after taking into account scientific evidence and availability of alternative medicines.

Earlier, DTAB in its 71st meeting held on May 13, 2016 deliberated on the proposal to incorporate a provision under the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Rules, 1945 for labeling of cellulose based capsule with green dot to indicate its vegetarian origin to distinguish from normally available capsule which are gelatin based. However, the members of the DTAB had opined that unlike food drugs are not taken by choice but are prescribed by the doctors to save lives and marking them as vegetarian or non – vegetarian origin is not desirable.

Also, the Expert Committee constituted by the union health ministry through an Order dated March 20, 2017 under the Chairmanship of Prof C K Kokate in its final report submitted on November 23, 2017 to the union health ministry had opined that the labeling of capsules with green or red marks to indicate its origin in case of drugs is not logical and has given the reason as follows: “The drugs, unlike food, are not taken by choice of the patients, but are prescribed by the physicians. Labeling these drugs as vegetarian or non-vegetarian origin is not desirable. The contents of the capsules may also contain drugs which are not of vegetarian origin; and the labeling of drugs with red/green mark will lead to non-acceptance of drugs by certain sections of the patient population who are vegetarian and the same is not desirable in the interest of the patients.”

After detailed deliberation, the Board at its 86th meeting reiterated its earlier recommendations made in the 71st DTAB meeting.

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