14, Ashoka road,
New Delhi 110001,
Telephone;- 011-23359241, 23357088, 23359241,
Respected Maneka Gandhi Ji,
Subject ;- Regarding oxytocin and related scientific information.
Drug Action Forum – Karnataka is an independent civil society campaigning for rational drug use and policies and would like to bring to your notice certain unscientific and misplaced statements by you that will cause harm to our mothers.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its circular dated 1st August 2018, “has restricted the manufacture of oxytocin formulations for domestic use to public sector only from 1st September, 2018, due to complaints of misuse”1.
As per media report, this particular restriction is based on a complaint filed by you as quoted below:- .
“Reacting to Maneka’s concerns, the Health Ministry, through the director general (health services), has asked state drug controllers for details of the manufacturers of oxytocin along with detailed information about the seizures conducted for the illegally produced hormone, the number of persons arrested in connection with these seizures, prosecutions filed and reports, if any, of sub standard quality seized”2.
Such restricted manufacturing will create a shortage of the availability of a life saving drug because oxytocin is administered to prevent bleeding which may occur after the baby is delivered. Oxytocin is an Essential Medicine as per World Health Organization and also the National List. Post Partum Haemorrhage (PPH) or bleeding following delivery is a major cause of maternal deaths in India. Nigeria and India, account for more than one-third of all global maternal deaths in 20153, though these deaths have declined as per the Ministry of Health Ministry, but it is well known that the single major medical cause of maternal death is PPH, because “more than 72.6 percent of deaths from hemorrhage were classified as postpartum hemorrhage”3.
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.
In your article which we quote below there are some serious unscientific statements that we request you to relook. For example you mention that
“In order to get the milk, dairy owners inject them with an illegal drug called oxytocin twice a day. Oxytocin sends the animal into labour, so for two hours a day the animal is writhing in labour pains till the milk is squeezed out of her inflamed diseased teats. Oxytocin comes into the milk and results in hormonal imbalances in humans, who get diseases like tuberculosis, cancer, blindness in children etc”3.
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 Pharmacology4.
In the light of these scientific facts and also the essential nature of oxytocin, we request and urge you to write to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India and withdraw your letter urgently and this will need to be done in the sole interest of saving our mothers. If you need more information on this issue we would be happy to provide the same. We hope you will examine this action seriously.
We greatly appreciate your concerns for animals and support your work but unfortunately any unscientific stand and remark can dilute all your good work and hence this letter. This is only our concern.
We also greatly appreciate your concerns with regard to the miss-use of antibiotics in animals, as rightly mentioned in your article3. This is an area that needs urgent attention and you may be aware that the USA has already restricted the use of antibiotics in animals. The same needs to be done in India and would be happy to provide you with all the information for the same and also work with you.
We look forward to hearing from you
Dr Gopal Dabade
Dr S L Pawar
1) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, https://mohfw.gov.in/eventsandannouncements/notice-regarding-oxytocin
2) Health Ministry wants oxytocin details after Maneka letter, 27th October 2014, Indian Express, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/health-ministry-wants-oxytocin-details-after-maneka-letter/
3) The Maneka Gandhi column: Cows are injected with illegal drugs for milk, condition of Indian dairies appalling, 18th June 2016, Firstpost, https://www.firstpost.com/living/the-maneka-gandhi-column-cows-are-injected-with-illegal-drugs-for-milk-condition-of-indian-dairies-appalling-2699844.html
4) Goodman & Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 12th edition. Page numbers 1124 and 1850. https://pharmacobook.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/goodman-and-gilman_s-the-pharmacological-basis-of-therapeutics-12e-mcgraw-hill-education-_-medical-2011.pdf