Health ministry reiterates nimesulide ban; adds some more

The health ministry on Friday issued a notification ordering a blanket ban on the sale and manufacture of six categories of drugs, including nimesulide formations for paediatric 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.

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 statement 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."

It said the decision was taken after the recommendation of the drug technical advisory board's sub-committee meeting held on 17 February. 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.