The Delhi High Court on Friday put on hold for a month the restrictions on production and sale of oxytocin by private companies for domestic use ordered by the Union Health Ministry, Live Law reported. The restrictions were to be implemented from September 1.

“Considering all circumstances, we are prima facie of the opinion that complete prohibition...on manufacture, sale and distribution for domestic use of oxytocin should be suspended for one month,” the bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice AK Chawla said, according to The Indian Express.

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. Only one public sector company in Karnataka was allowed to manufacture the drug. On August 21, the Centre had allowed private retail chemists to sell oxytocin from September 1, but did not mention any relaxation of the ban on manufacture of the product by private companies.

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 women during childbirth in the third stage of labour to prevent excessive bleeding. The life-saving drug has been listed as an essential medicine by the World Health Organisation and is also on India’s National List of Essential Medicines.

Petitioners who challenged the government’s order contended that the Centre had taken the decision without consulting Drug Consultative Committee and the Drug Technical Advisory Board.

The High Court said all parties concerned should file written submissions before the court by the next date of hearing, September 12.