Setting aside its ban on the sale of oxytocin, the Health Ministry has allowed private retail shops to sell the life-saving hormone from September 1, an official said today. The ministry in its notification dated April 27 had stated that sale of oxytocin through private retail chemists would be banned from July 1 and that the drug would be sold only in government hospitals and clinics. Later, it deferred the implementation of the ban till September 1."All retail sale shops are permitted to sell oxytocin," the official said. The government has restricted the manufacture of oxytocin formulations for domestic use to just one public sector company. State-owned Karnataka Antibiotics Pvt Ltd (KAPL) will be the only company to manufacture and distribute oxytocin in India from September 1. In a meeting on August 6, the ministry had asked the state governments and Union territories to place purchase orders with KAPL to ensure that there is no shortage of oxytocin injections in government hospitals and clinics. Oxytocin is a naturally-occurring hormone that causes uterine contractions during labour and helps new mothers lactate. But its misuse is widespread in the dairy industry where livestock is injected with oxytocin to make them release milk at a time convenient to farmers. The hormone is also used to increase the size of vegetables such as pumpkins, watermelons, brinjals, gourds and cucumbers. The government has already banned the import of oxytocin and its formulations.