The government has to put on hold by two months its decision to restrict the manufacturing and supply of oxytocin only through the Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (KAPL). The move comes in the wake of anticipation that the restriction may result in shortage of the drug used widely for maternity care during childbirth. The government had imposed a ban on manufacturing and sale of the drug except for PSU Karnataka Antibiotic from July 1 to prevent its misuse in diary. However, the ministry decided to reconsider the decision following concerns that the PSU may not have enough capacity to cater to the demand across the country. Moreover, since the ban also included retail sale in open market, it looked like a humongous task for KAPL to distribute the drug in remote areas of the country.
“The demand for the medicine is very high and since it is used during childbirth, it is needed in remotest of areas. Therefore, distribution of the medicine through KAPL is a challenge,” an official said. Sources said health ministry may also reconsider to restructure the implementation of the restriction on sale the drug. The two-month relaxation will be used by the ministry for deliberations with states for the smooth implementation of its decision. Oxytocin is a naturally-occurring hormone that causes uterine contractions during labour and helps new mothers lactate. It is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and regulates social interaction. Oxytocin is the recommended first-choice uterotonic drug for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), a leading cause of maternal mortality in caesarean sections.
The drug is widely misused in the dairy industry where livestock is injected with oxytocin to make them release milk at a time convenient to farmers. The hormone is also used to increase the size of vegetables such as pumpkins, watermelons, brinjals, gourds and cucumbers. The restriction was proposed with an idea to stop this misuse. The drug is so much in demand that many small-time pharma units illegally make it. In fact, the drug regulator has recently seized consignments along with illegally imported raw material of the drug from China. The regulator said such inspections and raid on illegal manufacturing will continue. – TOI