The Centre on Tuesday decided to allow private retail chemists to sell oxytocin from September 1. In April, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare passed an order prohibiting the import of the drug, and restricting its manufacture for domestic use. The order also stated that oxytocin would not, in any form, be sold through retail stores.

These restrictions were imposed after the Himachal Pradesh High Court in 2016 observed that the drug was being misused in the dairy industry. The order left many gynaecologists worried as oxytocin, which is a hormone naturally produced in the human body, is usually administered to a woman in childbirth in the third stage of labour to prevent excessive bleeding.

Under the April order, only one company in Karnataka would have been allowed to manufacture the drug.

However, in a gazette notification on Tuesday, the Centre said it would delete the provisions of the April 27 notification that said, “oxytocin in any form or name shall not be allowed to be sold through retail chemist”, The Indian Express reported. But the notification does not mention any relaxation of the ban on manufacture of the product by private companies.

All India Drug Action Network Co-Convener Malini Aisola said the government’s flip-flop on the Oxytocin matter showed that the decision to ban it was arbitrary. “It was taken without consultation with maternal health experts and those who would be affected,” she said.