Doctors often prescribe medicines in the form of capsules to patients. Most of you too would have taken capsules at some point in your life for some ailment. But have you ever wondered why medicines need to be covered by the shell of the capsules and what these capsules are actually made up of?
The medicines contained in these capsules are so bitter that they cannot be consumed without the outer shell. So pharmacy companies cover these medicines with shells so that they can be ingested easily. Most people think that these capsule shells are made up of some kind of plastic but this is far from the truth. Actually, capsules are made of gelatin.
Gelatin is an animal product made up of collagen. Collagen is a fibrous material which is made up of a substance found in bones of animals like cows and buffaloes. According to a report by Nai Duniya, this is precisely the reason why a number of pharmacy companies do not clearly mention on their labels about what products have been used to make the outer covering of the capsule.
This was revealed last year when the health ministry created a committee of specialists who would work on making capsules with use of plant products instead of gelatin. This committee was set up after Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi gave a “representation” to the Health Ministry for complete replacement of gelatin capsules with plant-based ones. She submitted the representation since India has millions of vegetarians and animal-product-based capsules hurt religious sentiments of many people.
As per a report dated June 17, 2017 by The Indian Express, over 98 per cent of the Indian pharmaceutical industry uses animal-based gelatin capsules. The only two manufacturers that market plant-based capsules are Indian-based Associated Capsules, and the American Capsugel.