Easy Access to Banned Drug

In Karauli, Rajasthan, Oxytocin is used freely despite its ban by the government.

Oxytocin is a hormone found in mammals, primarily related to female reproduction. In its synthetic form, Oxytocin is sold under the names of Pitocin and Syntocinon, and is administered mainly for labour induction. Although it is known to have relatively few side effects than other drugs used for this process, the side effects, if any, can still be extremely harmful. They may include haemorrhages, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, hematoma, nausea and even death.

In India, the use of synthetic Oxytocin is banned under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and section 12 of Food and Drug Adulteration Prevention Act, 1960. It is known to be misused by milkmen, who inject it in their cows and buffaloes to extract more milk. Although this does increased the flow of milk, animals injected are in constant pain, and repetitive dosages may permanently affect their health. Oxytocin is also known to be injected in fruits and vegetables to make them look bigger in size.

In Karauli, Rajasthan, our Community Correspondent Sunita Kasera would often see cows being injected in her village. Soon, she began questioning her ‘doodhwala’ as to why they were injecting the animals, and he informed her that it increased their milk flow. Through research on the internet and other places, Sunita found out that the drug was banned, and had adverse effects on milk giving cows. Yet, she could easily procure it from a medical dispensary without a prescription.  On questioning the drug inspectors of her district, she understood that the same drug is used for women to induce labour. When she tried confirming it with the drug inspector, he became defensive and refused to give her a straightforward answer.

The milk produced from injected cows contains traces of Oxytocin, and if consumed over a long period of time, it has negative effects on one’s health. PETA's campaign coordinator Nikhunj Sharma, on the occasion of World Milk Day, announced at a press conference,"Humans unknowingly consume the poison along with milk which cause long-term medical problems, including cancer and impotency.” In a survey conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana, it was found that over 82% of farmers used oxytocin on their cattle to extract more milk. Not only is there a problem with the infected supply of milk, but the cattle themselves undergo terrible pain due to constant cramping and pressure in their udders.

Sunita Kasera tells us that the Drug Inspector of Karauli only makes short monthly visits, and does not pay heed to the use of banned substances like Oxytocin. Since she found out about the drug, she has switched to another milk supplier. “The Government should take strict measures against the availability of Oxytocin. How can people be so greedy that they infect our milk? Our children’s health is at risk, and all some can think about is making more money.”

- Rajyashri Goody

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