Drug Action Forum asks Health Ministry to withdraw restrictions on Oxytocin

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Sep 2018 12:28:12



By Rajendra Diwe,

REACTING sharply on the restrictions of Union Health Ministry to manufacture Oxytocin formulations for domestic use to public sector only from September 1, 2018, health activists across the country have urged the ministry to withdraw it. Dr Gopal Dabhade and Dr S L Pawar, members of the Drug Action Forum (DAF) from Karnataka, in an open letter to the minister said that restricted manufacturing of Oxytocin would create a shortage of the life-saving drug because it is administered to prevent bleeding which may occur after the baby is delivered.

Post Partum Haemorrhage (PPH) or bleeding following delivery is a major cause of maternal deaths in India. So the availability of affordable and good quality Oxytocin is extremely important. Oxytocin is also used to induce unobstructed labour, which needs monitoring by health experts, the letter states.

DAF, an independent civil society campaigning for rational drug use and policies, urged Union Minister Maneka Gandhi to withdraw her complaint letter based on which the Ministry had restricted the manufacture of Oxytocin formulations for domestic use to public sector only from September 1, 2018.

Refuting the points made by the minister in her complaint to the health ministry, the Forum said, “Firstly Oxytocin as mentioned by you is not illegal but is used both by medical and veterinarians to stop and or prevent PPH. Of course if the drug is substandard or spurious or illegally manufactured then proper legal action needs to be taken against the manufacturing companies and this will hold good for any drug in the Indian market.”

“Secondly, Oxytocin acts on the uterus only when there is a pregnancy and not otherwise. So the labour pain is induced when the uterus has a foetus not otherwise and so the animal does not writhe in pain for two hours every time Oxytocin is injected, as stated by you. Rather Oxytocin acts on the muscle (called myoepithelial cells) of the breast tissue and squeezes the milk out. It does not increase milk secretion.”

“Thirdly, Oxytocin is administered either intramuscularly or intravenously and never orally. The drug does not act or does not get absorbed when administered orally. So even if consumed orally by humans as mentioned by you, it has absolutely no action at all, as it gets inactivated. Fourthly, Oxytocin as mentioned by you does not in any way cause hormonal imbalances.

Further it is not clear as to what exactly you mean by ‘hormonal imbalances’. And fifthly, there is no scientific evidence that Oxytocin will cause tuberculosis, cancer or blindness in children and all these are unnecessary apprehensions without any scientific facts. All this information can be accessed from any standard medical text book of Pharmacology”. The forum has sought withdrawal of letter by Gandhi in the light of scientific facts and essential nature of Oxytocin. “This will need to be done in the sole interest of saving our mothers,” the Forum has said.