Union health ministry will hold a video conference call with all the state governments on Monday to discuss their current position of Oxytocin stock and the steps they are taking to make sure there is no shortage of this drug from September 1.
Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceuticals Limited (KAPL) will also participate in this conference call. From September 1, only KAPL, a public entity, would be permitted to manufacture and distribute Oxytocin in India.
Oxytocin production by private pharmaceutical firms and Oxytocin sale by private retail chemists will be banned from September 1. However, government-run chemist shops would not be affected by this ban.
Oxytocin’s import too has been banned by Centre. According to a source, KAPL began production for the first time on July 2.
“Additional secretary Manoj Jhalani (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) will chair a video conference call on Monday with the maternal health divisions of all state governments. KAPL will participate in this call too. The basic purpose is to check the current position of Oxytocin stock with each state government. The Union health ministry also wants to know what steps each state government is taking to ensure regular availability of this drug from September 1,” said a source privy to the development.
According to a guidance note issued by the health ministry, KAPL is going to have 17 distribution centres across the country. Distribution centres are not present in 19 states and Union territories including all north-eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Goa, among others.
“In the states where distribution centres are not present, a nodal centre in the vicinity will be responsible for the distribution of oxytocin formulations,” the note stated.
According to the source quoted above, the Centre is considering using district level government medicine stores as nodal centres. “However, these district level drug stores are either defunct or operating at minimum capacity in many states. So, the central government is not sure if these stores have requisite distribution prowess to help in Oxytocin availability,” the source added.
Oxytocin is administered to pregnant women to “prevent and treat” postpartum haemorrhage which accounts for about 35 per cent of all maternal deaths, according to World Health Organisation. In the dairy industry, Oxytocin is injected into livestock to increase milk production artificially. Vegetables are also injected with this drug as it helps in increasing their weight.
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. Mylan’s spokesperson told The Indian Express on Saturday: “We have challenged the notification, issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Health and Family Welfare, placing restrictions on the manufacture and supply of Oxytocin, before the Honourable Delhi High Court and the matter is sub judice”. Pfizer did not respond to the queries sent by The Indian Express.