A brief history and evolution of pharmaceutical laws in India

evolution of pharmaceutical laws in India

A brief history and evolution of pharmaceutical laws in India

The history of medical science is as old as humans itself, at the beginning the mankind learned from the basic instincts, from the observation of birds and animals. They used cold water, leaves, dirt etc. for soothing. Slowly these methods developed and became the roots of modern medication and pharmacy.

In ancient India also, people practised a very developed medical system. The earliest information on about medicine and medical science is available from Vedic period with four Vedas along with their Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads.

Later, the medical observations from the Vedic period laid the foundation for a more rational and methodical system known as Ayurveda.

Nevertheless, this system of medicine declined when Muslim invaded India, and with them, the Arabic or the Unani-Tibbi system flourished. However, until now, there were no scientific methods of standardisation of drugs.

The medical system in India saw another turn with British rule. The allopathic system became prominent, and initially, all drugs were imported from Europe. Later some drugs began to be manufactured in this country.

The Britishers at first imposed some laws having a direct or indirect bearing on drugs but they were insufficient-

l   1878 Opium Act- The manufacturing, cultivation, export-import and sale of opium were dealt with this act.

l   1889 Indian Merchandise Act- Misbranding of goods in general

l   1894 Indian Tariff Act- Imposing customs duty on goods including foods, drugs, chemicals and medicines imported into India or exported therefrom.

l   1898 Sea Customs Act -Goods with ‘false trade description’ were prevented from importing under this act.

l   1919 Poisons Act Regulated the import, possession and sale of poisons.

l  Indian Penal Code - Some sections deal with adulteration as a punishable offence.


Dawn of Pharmaceutical Profession and laws in India

On 11th August 1930 government of India appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Late Col. R.N. Chopra. The purpose of the committee was to see problems of Pharmacy in India and recommend the measures.

The committee published its report in 1931. According to it, there was no recognised profession of Pharmacy in India. Only a few compounders were filling the gap.

After that, Prof. M.L. Schroff initiated university level pharmaceutical education at Banaras Hindu University. In 1935 the United Province Pharmaceutical Association was established which later became Indian Pharmaceutical Association.

The government of India brought ‘Import on Drugs Bill’ in 1937; however, it was later withdrawn. In 1940 the government brought ‘Drugs Bill’ which was later adopted as Drugs and cosmetics act 1940. This act aimed to regulate import, manufacture, sale and distribution of drugs in India.

Next year under this act, the Drugs Technical Advisory Board was constituted, and Central Drugs Laboratory was established in Calcutta. In 1945 the government established Drugs rule under Drugs act 1940.

In 1945 the government brought pharmacy bill to standardise the pharmacy education in India, and in 1948, the Pharmacy Act was adopted.

In 1948 Indian Pharmaceutical Committee was established under the chairmanship of Dr B.N. Ghosh.

In 1949 Pharmacy Council of India was established under the Pharmacy Act.

The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act was brought in 1954. The object of this act was to control the advertisement regarding drugs. The act prohibits the advertising of drugs claiming to have magical qualities.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was enacted in 1985 to protect society from the danger of addictive drugs.  It controls and regulates the operations relating to Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.