Oxytocin Ban Reconsideration: Union Health Ministry

Tanuja Bisht

, News

Recently, a news grabs the attention of all regarding the oxytocin ban, which is on the private manufacturing and retail sale of oxytocin ( a peptide hormone and neuropeptide) by Union Health Ministry of India, which is expected to kick off on September 1.


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Basically, the drug is a synthetic version of a human hormone, which is a life-saver for women. Mainly doctors use it to induce labor in pregnant women during postpartum bleeding.


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the role in maternal health as the drug of choice in postpartum hemorrhage.


The step taken by the government is to ban the misuse of the hormone in the dairy industry. The oxytocin hormone stimulates lactation in cattle and used by dairy farmers to inject the drug indiscriminately for increasing milk production.


The government also states that several unlicensed facilities are manufacturing the drug for veterinary use which is illegal. It is a problem that needs solving.


The right approach from the government is to strengthen the regulation and crack down on illegal production. Much is unknown about the ill-effects of oxytocin in cattle.


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One of the major concerns about the use of oxytocin is its ill-effect on cattle such as its use leads to infertility in dairy animals. The hormone has also been linked to mastitis (inflammation of the udder). Milk consumers bother about exposure to it through dairy products.


In 2015, the National Dairy Research Institute was cited that there was no evidence that oxytocin led to infertility, which is based on a study conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition which reveals that there is no alteration between oxytocin content in buffalo milk and injections.


Even if the harmful effects of oxytocin are real, oxytocin ban is not the answer. The hormone is too important for Indian women, 45,000 of whom die each year as a result of a postpartum hemorrhage. A parallel to the situation is the misuse of antibiotics in humans and poultry.


The use of these drugs is so strong that the deadly bacteria become resistant to them. Despite the call for a total ban on the sale of non-prescription antibiotics, India has resisted. In many rural areas of India, more people are dying of antibiotics than antibiotics.


This has shifted the cost-benefit ratio to absolute bans. In the case of oxytocin, if a single public sector entity produces the drug, as the government expects, it could lead to a shortage of drugs and higher prices.


The monopolization of production will crowd out cheap options in the market. Such a situation may benefit livestock, but it will endanger the lives of many women.


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