HC stays ban on the production of oxytocin for a month

HC stays ban on the production of oxytocin for a month

PTI file photo.

The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed a central government order banning production of oxytocin – a hormone also used as a medicine during child delivery – in private sector units from September 1.

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla passed an interim order on the pleas seeking to set aside the ban that came under sharp criticism from doctors, who apprehend that allowing only one public sector unit to manufacture the drug, would lead to a shortage in a country as large as India.

While suspending the government order on the prohibition of sale and manufacture of oxytocin, the HC asked other parties including the government to present their views before the bench, which posted the matter for next hearing on September 12.

Earlier this year the Union Health Ministry prohibited manufacture and sale of oxytocin in the private sector and permitted only state-owned Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Limited to produce and supply the medicine to the entire country.

The ministry claimed it took the decision on the basis of complaints it received about the drug's abuse in the veterinary sector. The government also cited the order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, that merely asked the Centre to “consider” the possibility of restricting the production of oxytocin only to the private sector.

The stay order was issued on petitions filed by BGP Products Operations GmbH, a subsidiary of Mylan Laboratories, Neon Laboratories and All India Drug Action Network – an NGO that promotes access to essential medicines to all.

Both Mylan and Neon are among the private producers of oxytocin.

Faced with criticism from doctors, the Health Ministry last month amended its earlier order allowing the retail sale of oxytocin.

The Delhi HC found that when the decision to restrict the sale of oxytocin was taken in February 2018 KAPL was not even licenced to manufacture the drug. It received the licence only this April.

Oxytocin is administered to pregnant women to prevent and treat postpartum haemorrhage that accounts for about 35% of all maternal deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

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