Vegetable and gelatine capsules can coexist and market conditions will determine whether veg or gelatin capsules to be used if uniform pricing prevails. It would bring in fair competition and stall uncompetitive practices, said Kaushik Desai, pharma consultant.
These observations come following the CDSCO order in April this year seeking suggestions from the pharma industry on its proposal to replace gelatin capsules with vegetable capsules.
There should be dedicated vegetable capsules manufacturers which will enable India to build its production for veg capsules or Hydroxypropyl Methycellulose (HPMC) capsules which are cellulose based and of plant origin.
The best way to create competitive pricing platform in the market is to bring veg capsules on par with gelatin capsules. This is on similar lines that of the generic drugs where physicians take a call on what to prescribe, he added.
Currently, manufacture of veg capsules is an expensive proposition. In order to encourage the manufacture of the veg capsules, the government should give subsidies for veg capsule production. This is the only way to sustain the volume of production and enable affordability. All this should happen without impacting the manufacture and marketing of hard and soft gelatin capsules. Therefore, both veg and gelatin can be made available independently. Pharma companies can decide on the either or both, pointed out Desai.
The big task on the government‘s part is to encourage the allied pharma industry to take up production of veg capsules. In the wake of the existing price control which is impacting cost of manufacture, government should look at compensating the high cost of manufacture of veg capsules. In order to offset the challenge of cost of production, financial backing needs to come in from the government. This will enable manufacturers to absorb the input cost. The agenda is to ensure accessibility and affordability of medicines in either in the form of veg or hard/soft gelatine form, he noted.
Another aspect is the stability studies of veg capsules that are yet to be proven. Once this is sorted out with adequate access to safety and efficacy studies, the market will decide on opting veg or gelatin capsules, said Desai.
With India’s stockpile of formulations in Ayurveda, herbal and nutraceuticals, the market potential is huge for veg capsules manufacturers. However, the choice of gelatin and veg will depend on the company which sources the same for its drugs.
Therefore both veg and gelatin capsules should coexist. Only the pharmaceutical manufacturer should decide on the choice of drug delivery path: veg or gelatin. It is the onus of the government even as it evaluates the advantages of the veg capsules to consider its viability and affordability. This will bring in a win-win situation for the government, industry and the patients at large, said Desai.