Ahead of SC hearing, IMA protests against Oxytocin Ban
New Delhi: With the centre challenging the Delhi HC order setting aside the Centre's ban of manufacture and sale of oxytocin, the Indian Medical Association has now come out in protest of the Oxytocin Ban. As per recent media reports, the hearing is likely to take place on February 1, 2018
Undauntedly, IMA stated that they would hold the Government responsible for unfortunate consequences as a result of shortages in Oxytocin.
The issue of ban on Oxytocin has been going for a long time now. The matter originated after the health ministry had said in April 2018 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 decision was taken after the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), in a meeting on 12 February 2018 recommended various measures to check widespread misuse of the drug.
DTAB proposed restrictions on imports and decided to confine manufacturing to Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a government company.
The proposal, however, displeased many. The private firms resisted the decision while the Health activist group All India Drug Action Network had also filed public interest litigation to revoke the ban. Soon the ban was revoked.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that the Delhi High Court suspended for a month the Centre’s ban on private companies producing and distributing oxytocin, a drug used to induce labour contractions during childbirth and control bleeding after it.
Recently, IMA opposed the ban pointing out that Oxytocin is a life-saving drug used during childbirth. It is the only drug available to control bleeding after delivery.
"The Govt. of India has intervened to hand over the production of this drug exclusively to one public sector company KAPL (Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Limited). Interestingly the company neither has the experience nor the capacity to handle such a huge responsibility," the release alleged
IMA is of the opinion that misuse of Oxytocin in the dairy sector for augmentation of milk production has led the Government to take this drastic step. IMA has no objection to KAPL manufacturing Oxytocin exclusively for veterinary use if indicated. Curtailing the manufacture of a life-saving drug which is listed in the National and WHO Lists of Essential medicines with restrictions, will create artificial bottlenecks and shortages.
"Whether a single public sector company would be competent to supply to the needs of the entire nation is an important question to be answered. The company itself is on record that any bulk production would take 3-4 years. This move could jeopardize the lives of many young mothers by increasing the incidence of bleeding after childbirth and subsequent morbidity and mortality. India accounts for 19% of the global burden of maternal deaths. Latest figures report PPH (Post Partum Haemorrhage: bleeding after delivery) as the contributory cause of 19.9% of maternal mortality, that is anywhere from 78,000 to 117,000 maternal deaths in India. It is quite natural that doctors, especially the obstetricians are concerned," said IMA.
The misuse could be prevented through strict control in a sale and the end use of the drug especially prevention through clandestine channels. It is pertinent to point out that most of the veterinary use comes from the illegal import of Oxytocin from neighbouring countries. Restricting the manufacture instead of the end use is illogical. IMA demands reconsideration of the Government’s policy on this issue on behalf of the young mothers and the obstetricians. Thousands of lives could be saved if the Government pulls back from its current position. IMA would hold the Government responsible for shortages in Oxytocin and unfortunate consequences.