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Oxytocin - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore


What’s in news?

The Supreme Court referred to a larger Bench about the issue of banning manufacture of life-saving drug Oxytocin by private companies.


  • In April 2018, the health ministry has imposed a ban on private drug manufacturers from producing Oxytocin. The government had restricted its imports and decided to confine manufacturing to Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a government company.
  • With respect to the ban, the license of the three pharma companies stood cancelled and terminated.
  • A firm AIDAN resisted the move to regulate the lifesaving drug and approached the court. 
  • Also it mentioned the availability of the drug will be severely hit if the government allows only one manufacturer to make it. 
  • The firm mentioned that neither the Drugs Technical Advisory Board nor the Drugs Consultative Committee had recommended or approved the complete prohibition on manufacturing of Oxytocin by private licensees.

Key data’s:

  • A bench of the apex court hearing the government’s appeal on the issue and raised more questions it feels need to be answered before any decision is taken on the proposed ban.
  • The matter is now expected to be argued in front of a larger bench, as the judges who heard the case so far have asked that it be placed before the Chief Justice of India.
  • According to an India sample registration scheme survey conducted in 2001-2003, postpartum hemorrhage accounted for 38 per cent of maternal deaths in the country.
  • Twin issues mentioned in the Supreme Court:
  • The unregulated and clandestine manufacture of the drug Oxytocin, which is reportedly misused in milch animals
  • The continued supply of an essential life-saving drug, which is used as the first line drug for prevention and treatment of post-partum hemorrhage at the time of childbirth.

What is Oxytocin?

  • Oxytocin is administered to women during childbirth and is seen as crucial to prevent them from bleeding excessively, a common cause of maternal deaths. 
  • Also known as the ‘love hormone’, secreted by the pituitary glands of mammals during sex, childbirth, lactation or social bonding. 
  • Included as a lifesaving drug in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
  • It is a uterine stimulant hormone, prescribed for the initiation of uterine contractions and induction of labour in women, as well as stimulation of contractions during labour, promote the release of breast milk.
  • It is also used to help abort the foetus in cases of incomplete abortion or miscarriage, and to control bleeding after childbirth.
  • It may be used for breast engorgement. However, it is also used widely in the dairy industry, agriculture and horticulture to boost production.


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