HC quashes Centre’s ban on oxytocin manufacture

The Delhi High Court on Friday quashed the Centre’s decision to ban the manufacture and sale of oxytocin, a drug which induces labour and controls bleeding during child birth, by private firms. A Bench of Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and A.K. Chawla set aside the government’s April 27 notification imposing the ban, saying it was “arbitrary and unreasonable”. “The UoI did not adequately weigh in the danger to the users of oxytocin, nor consider the deleterious effect to the public generally and women particularly, of possible restricted supply if manufacture is confined to one unit, to the pregnant women and young mothers, of a potentially life-saving drug,” the Bench said. It said the Centre’s decision to allow only a single, state-run entity — with no prior experience in manufacturing oxytocin — to make and sell the drug, was “fraught with potential adverse consequences”. “The risk of such a consequence can be drastic: the scarcity of the drug, or even a restricted availability can cause increase in maternal fatalities, during childbirth, impairing lives of thousands of innocent young mothers,” it said. The Bench was not impressed with the Centre’s “far greater” reliance on the need to prohibit availability of oxytocin from what was perceived to be widespread veterinary misuse. “Correspondingly there was no scientific basis, and insufficient data to support the conclusion that the drug’s existing availability or manner of distribution posed a risk to human life,” it added.

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