Ministry reissues notice on drug ban, 2 more added to list

NEW DELHI, March 20 (AGENCIES): The health ministry has on Friday issued a notification for the second time ordering a blanket ban on the sale and manufacture of six categories of drugs, including Nimesulide formations for pediatric use and Sibutramine, a popular anti-obesity drug. Health officials said this action was taken following reports that these drugs with harmful side-effects were still being sold in the market.  This time the government has also banned the drugs Gatifloxacin and Tegaserod with immediate effect, saying their use poses health risks. Gatifloxacin is an antibiotic and Tegaserod is meant to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
A health ministry official said: "The use of Gatifloxacin and Tegaserod is likely to cause certain health risks. Safer alternatives to these drugs are available in the market. It is necessary and expedient to prohibit the manufacture, sale and distribution of these drugs in public interest." He said the decision was taken after the recommendation of the drug technical advisory board's sub-committee meeting held on February 17. Drug experts cited international research which showed that the risk posed by Gatifloxacin of causing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in elderly patients is 17 times more than other antibiotics.
Health experts said there are substitutes available for these drugs and there is a need to create awareness about this issue. "Even though the state drug controllers have been alerted, it is necessary that people should know these drugs are unsafe. There have been reports that chemists are still selling drugs like Nimesulide. The adverse effects of this drug include liver toxicity, which could further lead to liver damage. The other side-effects are diarrhoea, vomiting, skin rash and dizziness," said an official.
Anti-obesity drug Sibutramine was also banned by the health ministry in its February 10 notification, but many shops are still selling it. In some cases, doctors, unaware of the ban, also prescribe the medicines.