In a turnaround, the Central government had on Tuesday decided that private retail chemists would be free to sell Oxytocin from September 1.
Through a notification dated April 27, 2018, the Centre had stated that sale of Oxytocin through private retail chemists would be banned from July 1. However, fearing Oxytocin shortage, the government postponed the date of implementation of this ban to September 1.
Now, in a gazette notification dated August 21, 2018, the Central government announced its decision to delete the provisions of April 27 notification that stated that “Oxytocin in any form or name shall not be allowed to be sold through retail Chemist”. The Centre on Tuesday has also deleted the provisions that stated that the Oxytocin would be sold through government chemists only.
“The government’s repeated back and forth on retail sales demonstrates that the decision to restrict/ban Oxytocin was unplanned and arbitrary. It was without consultation with maternal health experts and those who would be affected,” said Malini Aisola, co-convenor, All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN).
Oxytocin is administered to pregnant women to “prevent and treat” postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), which is the leading cause of maternal mortality across the world according to World Health Organization (WHO). PPH accounts for about 35 per cent of all maternal deaths, as per WHO.
Tuesday’s government notification has not mentioned anything about the proposed ban on Oxytocin production by private companies, which will come into force from September 1. The April 27 notification stated that private companies would not be permitted to manufacture and distribute Oxytocin in India from July 1. Currently, Pfizer and Mylan are two leading producers of Oxytocin in India. Both, being private firms, would not be permitted to manufacture and distribute Oxytocin in India from September 1.
Oxytocin’s import has already been banned by the Central government. From September 1, only Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceuticals Limited (KAPL), a public sector entity, would be permitted to manufacture and distribute Oxytocin in India. According to a source privy to the development, KAPL started production of Oxytocin for the first time from July 2.