New Delhi: The health ministry on Wednesday suspended the sale of two popular drugs—pain reliever analgin and anti-diabetic drug pioglitazone. According to some experts, the use of pioglitazone can lead to fluid retention that precipitates or worsens congestive heart failure (CHF) among patients.

Domestic generic drug manufacturers protested against the ministry’s move, saying that it would force patients to buy expensive drugs.

“The move has been sudden and the secrecy around the decision is also not understood. Pioglitazone has been sold in India since 2001 and there is no compelling evidence to take such a drastic step," said D.G. Shah, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance. “There is a huge market for these drugs and the ministry’s move is going to make most patients shift to gliptins, which are three to four times more expensive than their generic versions."

Analgin has been banned for sale in the US for over three decades. Pioglitazone, of the rosiglitazone family, is banned only in France.

“We have been advocating for suspension of sale of this drug for a while. The innovator company, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, has itself admitted that the drug can worsen certain congestive heart conditions," said C.M. Gulhati, an expert in the rational use of drugs and editor of the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities.

As part of streamlining the functioning of the Indian drug regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), the health ministry has been asked to suspend the sale of globally banned drugs in the Indian market. This comes after a parliamentary panel enquiry revealed serious violations in granting marketing licences in India.

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