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Health ministry bans import and over-the-counter sale of oxytocin

Oxytocin is used by child traffickers to speed up puberty in girls who are then pushed into prostitution.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2018 00:16 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Health ministry,oxytocin,child traffickers
Oxytocin is widely used in dairy farms for more production of milk, but it is leading to harmful effects on humans and livestock.(Photo for representation)

The government on Friday banned the import and over-the-counter sale of the feel-good hormone oxytocin that is used by child traffickers to speed up puberty in girls who are then pushed into prostitution. The hormone is widely used in dairy farms leading to harmful effects on humans and livestock.

The government also restricted its manufacture to the public sector to check its growing misuse.

The hormone is permitted for use mainly to speed up labour in pregnant women to avoid risks or complications. However, the hormone, in its various forms, is increasingly being used illicitly, and manufactured clandestinely without proper license.

The health ministry issued an order to regulate and restrict its manufacture, sale and distribution after going through recommendations made by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board, a statutory body under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

The board recommended that oxytocin formulations for human use be regulated and restricted to be supplied only to registered hospitals and clinics in public and private sector to prevent its misuse.

“We know of cases where the drug is stocked and supplied illegally and not for 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 a senior health ministry official.

Sudhir Kumar, joint secretary in the health ministry cited a Himachal Pradesh high court order asking the government to “consider regulating use, manufacture, sale and distribution” of oxytocin.

“We have complied with the order,” he added.

The country’s top regulatory body for drugs and medical devices— Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), had also issued a circular last year regarding strict regulatory control over the manufacturing, sale and distribution of the hormone and its formulations.

“We asked the states to take strict action, which could even be criminal action, against people who are 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.

Doctors feel it is a good move.

“It’s good that ministry has regulated its use because even in labour where it’s needed, the dosage has to be regulated and specific. Misuse usually happens because it also leads to sexual arousal,” says Dr Anuradha Kapur, senior obstetrician and gynaecologist, Max Healthcare.

The ban on import comes into effect immediately, and regulations to manufacture the hormone for domestic use will come into force from July 1, 2018.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 22:56 IST