A company spokesperson clarified that Biocon
had already introduced a reusable insulin
pen called INSUPen in 2011. Biocon’s ready-to-use pre-filled disposable pen with insulin Glargine is manufactured at its plant in Bengaluru.
Disposable pens are generally more convenient than reusable ones because a user does not need to load any cartridge. The downside is that they usually cost more and also contribute to a significant amount of medical waste. Shaw in a blog in April had pointed out that when given the choice, more people are likely to choose the more affordable and environmentally friendlier reusable pens.
“Disposable pens should only be given to the very old or the very young, who would find it difficult to load a reusable pen,” she had then said.
The reusable insulin pen market in India is largely dominated by French player Sanofi and Danish Novo Nordisk. Sanofi had introduced a reusable insulin pen some years back.
Meanwhile, the other pharma majors have not yet announced any significant measures to alter their packaging to cut down on single-use plastic. An industry source indicated that the government has verbally indicated to the industry that it has around one year until it can come up with an alternative to packaging with single-use plastic.
The chairman of a pharma company, which ranks among the top 10 players here, said, “If pharma packaging for liquid oral formulations is done in glass bottles, the costs would increase significantly. There are also issues around waste. We can definitely move towards more environment-friendly ways, but then the government has to allow us to increase the prices and it is not possible to absorb the costs.”
He also claimed that the same cannot be implemented for products outside of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under price control. “For non-NLEM products, the maximum price rise allowed every year is 10 per cent. The pharma industry is already under stringent regulatory pressure,” he added.
Sudarshan Jain, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, which represents leading pharma companies
in India, said the pharma industry was mulling over options to cut down on single-use plastic, but it would take some time.
can cut down on plastic once we have clarity from the government on the pricing front,” said Jain.
“Since export markets allow medicines to be packed in plastic bottles, the industry also feels implementing two separate packaging lines for glass and plastic bottles is also not viable.”