India cracks down on wide misuse of oxytocin hormone in dairy and farming
To check the wide misuse of the cuddle hormone oxytocin, India plans to restrict its manufacturing, sale and distribution in the public sector.
Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone”, is a naturally-occurring hormone that causes uterine contractions during labour and helps new mums lactate.
Its misuse is widespread in the dairy industry where livestock are 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.
“We know of cases where the drug is stocked and supplied illegally for use other than its intended purpose. People tend to misuse it and having control over its manufacturing, sale and distribution will ensure it is used primarily in the labour rooms for deliveries,” said CK Mishra, secretary health.
Over time, misuse and overuse causes symptoms of dizziness, nausea, early puberty, mood swings, erratic heart rate and foetal damage, among others.
India’s top regulatory body for drugs and medical devices, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), had issued a oxytocin drug alert earlier this year asking drug controllers of all states and UT’s to crackdown on illegal use.
“We asked states to take strict action, including criminal action, against people found to be illegally manufacturing, storing or selling the drug. It is extremely harmful to produce the medicine in a non-sterile condition,” said a senior official in CDSCO, who did not wish to be identified.
The misuse of this growth promoter drug is also reported in cases where children are trafficked for the purpose of prostitution, and the drug is injected to ensure girls attain puberty earlier than usual.
“We have asked the state regulatory bodies as well as the central regulators to maintain a strict vigil. We want to seriously go after people who use oxytocin illegally,” the official said.
The Centre has also written to medical organisations, such as Indian Medical Association (IMA), and veterinarian groups about checking misuse.
“We have asked them to immediately report suspected misuse to the authorities concerned ,” he said.
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