Suggesting an amendment to the ban on the retail sale of the hormone drug oxytocin, the Health Ministry’s advisory panel has appealed to the Centre to consider allowing retailers to sell the drug. In a meeting held on July 25, the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) reportedly advised the Central government to ensure that this life-saving drug is available for human use by making modifications to its earlier order.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced in a press release on June 27 that it would be imposing a ban on the sale of oxytocin through retail pharmacists. This decision came after a number of reports highlighted that the drug was being misused in a number of ways.
It further added that Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (KAPL) would be the sole manufacturer of the drug and hospitals were to procure the drug from KAPL.
The ban on the sale of oxytocin was to come into effect from July 1, but was later extended to September 1, taking into consideration the amount of time it would require one company to produce enough oxytocin to meet the demands of the entire country.
Sreenath RN, Head of Research and Development KAPL, had earlier told TNM that any hospital or practice requiring the drug would have to place their orders with KAPL directly.
Many doctors and hospitals criticised the ban, pointing out that oxytocin was largely used in medical practice and stated that it would be difficult for one company to meet the needs of the entire nation.
A source from DTAB has told TNM that it recommended that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reconsider relaxing the rules pertaining to the sale of the drug in retail pharmacies following criticism from the medical sector.
“We are the sole manufacturers of oxytocin, KAPL is capable of meeting the oxytocin demands of the country. We have been given enough time to prepare for this,” added Sreenath.
The hormone drug is widely used to induce contractions in pregnant women and is also given post-delivery to control bleeding in women. It came under scrutiny after it was found that dairy farmers were injecting cows with the hormone to artificially increase production of milk and after reports of it being used to accelerate puberty in young girls to force them into sex work.