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Harmful Oxytocin hormone injections being misused to enhance cattle milk production and increase the size of vegetables & fruits despite ban

Oxytocin is a hormone classified as a Schedule H drug, and the Food & Consumable Substances Adulteration Act, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and the Drug Control Laws ban the sale of this restricted drug without prescription from a registered medical practitioner, as its indiscriminate use can cause serious side effects.

ILLEGAL & RAMPANT MISUSE OF THE OXYTOCIN HORMONE:

As per the findings of a report based on assessment of health and living conditions of 25,000 cattle in 450 dairies, spanning 10 of the country’s top milk producing states (Delhi, Punjab, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Tamil Nadu), nearly 55% of dairy owners allowed their sick animals to be milked.  “Illegal use of Oxytocin to increase the milk let down is a common occurrence in 46.9% dairies,” says the report prepared by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO). “Dairy owners use it in excessive quantities (3 to 4 ml.)”

  • The misuse of Oxytocin injections is widespread in the dairy industry where it is used to make cattle/livestock release higher quantity of milk at a time convenient to the farmers.
  • This hormone injection is also used to increase the size and improve the shape of vegetables and fruits such as pumpkins, watermelons, brinjals, gourds and cucumbers.
  • The misuse of this growth promoting drug is also reported in cases where small girls are illegally trafficked and abused for the purpose of prostitution, and this hormonal drug is injected to ensure girls attain puberty sooner, as early as 10 years of age.

According to a old report published by Dr. R P Parashar, president of DAV Research Society, 82% of cattle breeders use Oxytocin injections for forcefully milking cows & buffaloes in Delhi; 68% of cattle breeders were using these injections in adjoining areas of Delhi – Sonipat, Rohtak, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Gohana, Bahadurgarh, Loni; and 32% from remote areas of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

SIDE-EFFECTS OF OXYTOCIN HORMONE ON HUMANS:

Over time, consumption of cattle milk, vegetables and fruits injected with oxytocin injections can cause harmful side-effects in humans including among others:

  1. Hormonal disorders such as premature puberty & weight gain in females, and lack of testosterone and gynaecomastia (breast enlargement) in males,
  2. Foetal damage (physical deformities in unborn child) & abortion risk in pregnant women and excessive blood loss during delivery,
  3. Poor eyesight and hearing loss among children especially the new born babies,
  4. Erratic heart rate, mood swings, fatigue/tiredness and weakened immunity against diseases and infections

“The injected oxytocin reaches the human body through consumption of milk or any other dairy product causing several side effects on all. This is one of the reasons for early onset of puberty among girls, development of breast in male and lack of testosterone production due to hormonal imbalance. Milk adulterated with oxytocin should be avoided by pregnant women as it may lead to abortion and babies may be born with deformities. It increases the risk of haemorrhage in mothers after birth and can also inhibit breastfeeding”, as per Dr. Arvind Vaid, Chief Infertility and IVF Specialist, Indira IVF Hospital, New Delhi.

OXYTOCIN MISUSE IS A MAJOR COUNTRY WIDE PROBLEM:

The misuse of Oxytocin injections continues to be a major pan-India issue, and is not just limited to any one particular region or state:

  • Around 80,000 bottles of Oxytocin were recovered from 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh during FDA raids at dairies, medical stores, and general stores in 2010.
  • During 2014-2017, Hyderabad Police seized several hundred bottles of Oxytocin which were being supplied and used for injecting into buffaloes for more milk production.
  • In Delhi, 61 cartons of Oxytocin injections worth Rs 13 lakh were seized in 2015 from the New Delhi railway station.
  • In Maharashtra, 290 Oxytocin bottles were seized from a milk producer and dealer in Dec 2017 costing Rs. 73,000/-.
  • Several hundred bottles of Oxytocin were seized from Rajasthan and an illegal manufacturing unit producting Oxytocin injections was unearthed in Jaipur as recently as last month in Apr 2018.

In 2013, Mid-day conducted a 2-month long investigation to expose how cattle in most tabelas are artificially injected with Oxytocin hormone twice everyday. Despite the government ban, it is being supplied secretly to tabelas in western suburbs.

NEW STEPS TAKEN BY GOVT. TO CURB MISUSE OF OXYTOCIN:

As part of its renewed efforts to check the misuse of Oxytocin, the Union Ministry of Health has now taken some belated but very welcome steps based on recommendations of CDSCO (Central Drug Standard Control Organization) and DTAB (Drug Technical Advisory Board) in Apr 2018:

  1. It has restricted Oxytocin manufacture for domestic use to public sector only, amid concerns about the clandestine manufacture and sale of drug to dairies & farmers.
  2. It has banned all the imports of Oxytocin and its formulations for human as well as animal use with immediate effect.
  3. It has also accepted a DTAB recommendation to ensure that all oxytocin products should display bar-codes to ensure tracking and traceability of the drug vials and curb its misuse.
  4. It has banned the sale of formulations with oxytocin through retail chemists, believed to be misused in the dairy sector.
  5. The manufacturers are now required to restrict the supply of drug formulations for human use to registered hospitals & clinics, and to government-run medical stores only.

FORMULATING RULES IS NOT ENOUGH. WHAT NEXT?

A pharmacist selling Oxytocin over the counter without a prescription can lose his licence. Shopkeepers caught selling the hormone and dairy owners using it on cattle can be imprisoned for upto 2 years. But these laws exist only on paper. Dairies, are using the drug with impunity, and without prescriptions, having obtained it from private suppliers.

The manufacture, sale and distribution of Oxytocin are well described under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945. However, strong enforcement of these rules of law by the central govt., state authorities and drug controllers is needed urgently to check its indiscriminate misuse:

  • Stricter vigilance across the country for clandestinely operating Oxytocin manufacturing facilities and the drug suppliers/dealers.
  • Regular monitoring/inspection of medical stores by Central and State drug authorities to ensure no sale without prescription.
  • Strongly enforcing mandatory registration requirement for any dairy to operate, and penalizing the unregistered ones.
  • Surprise monthly checks on all dairies and horticulture zones to check for any unwarranted presence of oxytocin vials and injections, and stringent crackdown on any illegal usage.

“We asked states to take strict action, including criminal action, against people found to be illegally manufacturing, storing or selling the drug. It is extremely harmful to produce the medicine in a non-sterile condition,” said a senior official in CDSCO. 

It remains to be seen whether the central and state government authorities and drug controllers can follow-up on their action plan. At FindMediGo, we do hope that the govt. will enforce it seriously.

Sources:

  1. Article published in Mid-day dated Jun 11, 2013. Click here
  2. Oxytocin, Functions, Uses & Abuses dated Apr 1-17, 2016. Click here
  3. Article published in TOI dated Jul 6, 2017. Click here
  4. Article published in HT dated Jul 14, 2017. Click here
  5. Article published in Hindu dated Oct 24, 2017. Click here
  6. Article published in Uniindia.com dated Dec 1, 2017. Click here
  7. Article published in Deccan Chronicle dated Dec 27, 2017. Click here
  8. Article published in TOI dated Mar 6, 2018. Click here
  9. Article published in Mondaq.com dated Mar 15, 2018. Click here
  10. Article published in ET dated Apr 27, 2018. Click here
  11. Article published in Telegraph India dated Apr 28, 2018. Click here
  12. Article published in TOI dated Apr 29, 2018. Click here
  13. Article published in the2is.com. Click here

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