Drug Abuse Current Affairs

Government bans imports of hormone oxytocin

The Union government has banned imports of hormone oxytocin to stop its misuse in livestock industry, where it causes hormonal imbalances and shortens the lives of milch animals. The Government has decided to rely on domestic production to satisfy requirements of hormone. It has asked customs officials to step up vigilance against those likely to try and smuggle oxytocin into India.

Background

India had halted retail sales of oxytocin as prescription-only drug in 2014, but failed to curb illegal sales and the volume of imports was unclear. Even, Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) in February 2018 had recommended import ban of oxytocin. It also had recommended that sale be limited to registered government hospitals and clinics and bar code system should be used on all forms of drug to ensure tracking and prevent abuse. For adopting its recommendations, DTAB proposal had proposed amendments to section 10 of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and rule 96 of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

Oxytocin

Oxytocin, often called love hormone, is released naturally in human bonding activities such as sex, childbirth and breastfeeding.  It is uterine stimulant hormone, prescribed for initiation of uterine contractions and induction of labour in women as well as stimulation of contractions during labour. It is also used to help abort fetus in cases of incomplete abortion or miscarriage, and control bleeding after childbirth. It may be used for breast engorgement.

Misuse

It is a controversial hormonal injection that is used widely in the dairy industry, agriculture and horticulture. The drug’s abuse in animals shortens their lives and makes them barren sooner. Even its misuse is reported among trafficked children, injected to accelerate puberty among girls. It is also being misused to speed up deliveries for pregnant women in overcrowded government hospitals.

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Uttarakhand High court bans sale of whitener

The Uttarakhand High Court ordered state government to completely ban on the sale of whitener in the state following the death of a teenager from sniffing an excess of it.

The High Court issued the order by taking suo motu cognisance of the death of the 14-year-old boy due to sniffing excess whitener for a kick.

Besides, the high court also ordered that items such as Feviquick, Iodex should not be sold to children below 18 years of age in view of prevalent abuse of these among teenagers.

What are whiteners?

Whiteners are mainly used for erasing ink on paper and as shoe whitener. It contains volatile aliphatic petroleum hydrocarbons such toluene and trychloroethane which are intoxicating chemicals.

What is whitener-inhalation addiction?

  • In whitener-inhalation addiction, people inhale the whitener i.e. intoxicating chemicals present in it.
  • By doing this for some time, it makes the sniffer dizzy, high and disconnected. It has a hallucinatory effect on the sniffer. Thus, it is the first step to drug addiction or alcoholism.
  • The whitener abuse is generally seen among the youths. The problem has been compounded by its easy procurement, negligible cost and its lack of odour.

What are side-effects of whitener-inhalation addiction on health?

  • Whiteners contain hydrocarbons which is deadly solvents that can infuse easily with the blood and can affect the central nervous system of a person.
  • Some of the reported symptoms of solvent addiction are uncharacteristic behaviours such as mood swings and insomnia and it may results in kidney, liver and lung damage

What measures need to be taken to stop it?

  • Government should completely ban the sale of products that contain intoxicating chemicals, like the whitener.

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