Various legal Indian acts on Poisoning have been passed to regulate and control the manufacture, distribution, sale, and possession of poisons and drugs. 

The WHO defines “Poison as the substance which when introduced into the living body or brought into contact with any part, will produce ill effect or death by its local or systemic action or both.” 

Some of the Indian laws on the importance of poisons are as follows:

  • The Poison Act, 1919
  • The Drugs Act, 1940
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945
  • The Pharmacy Act, 1948
  • The Drugs Control Act, 1950
  • The Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954
  • The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985

In this article, we have explained these acts passed by the Indian government to eradicate the different poisons from the society.

Indian Acts on Poisoning

The Poison Act (1919)

This was amended in 1958 and rescinded in 1960. It controls the grant of licenses and sale of poisons, whether wholesale or retail. It also manages import, sale, and possession of any specific poisons and extends to the whole of India.

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act (1940) 

This Act was passed in 1940 to control the manufacture, import, distribution, and sale of drugs. It was amended in 1964 to include Ayurveda and Unani drugs, and it regulates the drugs of articles of cleansing (except soap), beautifying and promoting attractiveness, or altering appearances.

It was amended in 2008, and today, the Act is referred to as the Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Act (2008). This Act also requested that every patented or proprietary medicinal preparation under this Act must display a label on the container mentioning the accurate formula or list of ingredients in it, and it comes under section 8.

Adulterated drugs are described in sections 9A and 17A. It regulates the quality, purity, and strength of drugs for safety and Spurious drugs defined in section 9B. The amended Act has enhanced the penalty for various offenses, including the sale of spurious drugs, adulteration of drugs and cosmetics, toxic contamination, etc.

The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (1945) 

This is a derivative of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act 1940, and it contains all kinds of drugs used in therapeutics under allopathic, Unani, Ayurvedic, and Siddha preparations. This Act deals mainly with the standard and quality of drugs.

It also regulates the drugs by specific regulations laid down for their storage, scale, display, dispensing, labeling, prescription, etc. To facilitate the testing or analysis of drug samples to assess their quality, the central drugs laboratory was established in 1962.

Strict penalties have been taken for the manufacture, stocking, or sale of substandard or spurious drugs. The drugs and cosmetics Act has divided drugs into various schedules as follows.

  • Schedule C and C1– Biological and special products such as serums, vaccines, etc.
  • Schedule E1– Lists of poisonous substances under Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani systems of Medicine.
  • Schedule G– List includes hormone preparations, hypoglycemic agents, antihistamines, and anticancer drugs.
  • Schedule H and L– These are drugs or poisons that need to be labeled as ‘Schedule H Drug Warning- to be sold by retail on a Registered Medical Practitioner prescription-only.’ Barbiturates, amphetamines, reserpine, ergot, antibiotics, antibacterials, and some sulphonamides are listed under this schedule.
  • Schedule J– It covers a list of 51 diseases for the cure of which no drug can be announced. Such conditions are appendicitis, AIDS, blindness, cancer, cataract, epilepsy, hydrocoele, etc.
  • Schedule L– Antibiotics, antihistaminic, and other chemotherapeutic agents of recent origin are subjected to the same restrictions as Schedule H drugs.
  • Schedule O– Methods to be followed concerning disinfectant fluids.
  • Schedule X– Drugs include Barbiturates and certain other sedatives, amphetamines, etc.

The Pharmacy Act (1948)

This Act makes provision for the regulation of the pharmacy profession and for the constitution of the pharmacy council of India, which controls the study of pharmacy throughout the country.

Each state has its State Pharmacy Councils for the registration of pharmacists. The purpose of this Act is to allow only registered pharmacists to compound, prepare, mix, or dispense any medicine on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

The Drugs Control Act (1950)

This Act manages the supply and distribution of drugs and guides the manufacturer or dealer to fix the maximum price fix for every drug.

The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954

The purpose of this Act is to ensure that ethical standards are maintained when manufacturers advertise drugs. This Act prohibits the objectionable advertisements of magical remedial drugs for curing conditions such as venereal diseases, impotence, menstrual disorders, infertility, abortion, misconception, insanity, etc. Advertisements offending decency or morality can be forbidden under this Act.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985

This Indian Act was enacted in 1985 by the government to consolidate and amend the law relating to narcotic drugs and implement the provisions of the International Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Narcotic drugs included under this act opiates, cannabis, and cocaine. The psychotropic drugs under this Act refer to mind-altering drugs such as LSD, phencyclidine, amphetamines, mescaline, barbiturates, methaqualone, benzodiazepines, psilocybin, and designer drugs (MDMA, DMT, etc.).

It was amended twice in 1988 and 2001 to prevent trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. It applies to all citizens of India wherever they are, such as out of the country, on ships, etc.

The NDPS act force of complete prohibition on the cultivation of coca, poppy, and cannabis plants and the manufacture, sale, purchase, use, or transport of any narcotics drugs or psychotropic substances except for medical or scientific purposes.

The minimum penalty for any offense committed under the Act is 10 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh, while the maximum punishment is 20 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 20 lakhs. 

The NDPS Act comes under the Indian Act on Poisoning prevents poppy, cannabis, and coca plants. However, it allows restricted cultivation of these plants under strict observation for scientific and medical use. The Drugs price control order, 1995 was brought in by Govt. of India to maintain and control the manufacture and pricing of the first scheduled drugs.


In India, we have various acts and laws to regulate drugs and poisons. The Indian Acts on Poisoning are essential to know its legal aspects while prescribing and dispensing these drugs in a hospital or pharmacy.

These Acts can be aware or help us avoid negligence due to our ignorance of these rules and provide prudent medico-legal aspects related to drugs and Poison.

Categories: Toxicology


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