[op-ed snap] Right prescription: the ban on retail sale and private manufacture of oxytocin

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Oxytocin

Mains level: Flaws in the framing of health policies in India and the need of making the system better


Context

HC lifts the ban on the sale of oxytocin

  1. In a crucial development that exposes the flaws in health policy-making in the country, the Delhi High Court quashed a government ban on the retail sale and private manufacture of oxytocin
  2. Notified by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in April, the ban referred to a 2016 Himachal Pradesh High Court judgment, which discussed oxytocin’s misuse in dairy cattle, fruits and vegetables

Importance of Oxytocin

  1. Oxytocin is a life-saving drug used to stem post-partum bleeding among new mothers
  2. Because of this, it had been listed by both the World Health Organization and the Health Ministry as an essential medicine
  3. Around 45,000 women die from post-partum complications in India each year, and in 38% of the cases the reason is haemorrhaging
  4. Without the easy availability of inexpensive oxytocin, efforts to stem the maternal mortality epidemic could have suffered a costly setback

HC observations

  1. The court found that the government had failed to weigh the danger the ban posed to thousands of young mothers
  2. What is more, it had failed to show that the drug was widely misused for veterinary purposes, the purported reason behind the order
  3. The most damning observation in the judgment is that the Centre focussed on the health of milch animals, without considering the well-being of women
  4. This was despite the fact that all statutory bodies, including the Drugs Technical Advisory Board, had advised against a ban

Way forward

  1. It is time for a post-mortem of how health policy is made, because that is the only way to safeguard the right to health of Indian citizens
Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.
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