New Delhi: In a blow to the government, Delhi high court on Friday suspended for a month the ban it had imposed on private companies from manufacturing and selling of hormone drug oxytocin.
The health ministry had said in April that oxytocin will not be available at retail private chemist stores and that private pharmaceutical companies will have to stop manufacturing the drug from September. The high court has stayed the ban till October.
Oxytocin, is a uterine stimulant hormone, prescribed for the initiation of uterine contractions and induction of labour in women, as well as stimulation of contractions during labour. It is also used to help abort the foetus in cases of incomplete abortion or miscarriage, and to control bleeding after childbirth. It may be used for breast engorgement.
However, it is also used widely in the dairy industry, agriculture and horticulture to boost production. Authorities are also concerned at reported misuse of the growth booster among trafficked children, injected to accelerate puberty among girls.
As reported first by Mint, the government’s top drug advisory board, the Drug Technical Advisory Board, in a meeting on 12 February recommended various measures to check widespread misuse of the drug.
It proposed restrictions on imports and decided to confine manufacturing to Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a government company.
However, domestic drug firms have been resisting the move to regulate the life saving drug. Manufacturers say availability will be severely hit if the government allows only one manufacturer to make it.
The court will hear the case next on 12 September, people aware of the matter said, requesting anonymity.
Health activist group All India Drug Action Network had also filed a public interest litigation to stop the ban.
There are 80 licenced manufacturers including pharma majors Pfizer and Novartis, but only one manufacturer of oxytocin active pharmaceutical ingredient, according to drug regulator, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization.
Oxytocin is included as a lifesaving drug in the National List of Essential Medicines.