TT, April 18: About Rs 80lakh-worth of a chemical which has as its active ingredient a hormone illegally used to boost milk production in cows has been seized from a Sealdah house.
Cow milk containing the hormone - oxytocin - is harmful for humans.
Sale, supply and use of oxytocin without a prescription are banned. Only companies licensed to deal with oxytocin are allowed to trade in it.
Legally, it can be used during childbirth in humans or animals under a doctor or a vet's supervision.
The consignment was seized yesterday following joint raids by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), Narcotics Control Bureau and the enforcement branch of Calcutta police.
A CDSCO official said oxytocin was being smuggled into Calcutta from China via Delhi under a different name and sold to livestock dealers.
"Oxytocin is smuggled into the city in small sachets. It is turned into liquid and then sold in injection vials. It's a very potent drug and is effective even in a very small quantity," the official said.
In order to ensure that the drug is only used for legitimate purposes, the health ministry had issued a notification under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, mandating that the manufacturers of bulk oxytocin shall supply the drug only to the traders licensed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, oxytocin is a Schedule-H drug and can only be sold when prescribed by a registered medical practitioner.
"This hormone is in great demand as it affects milk production. Calcutta has become a transit point on the oxytocin smuggling route," a police officer attached to the case said.
"If oxytocin is injected into cows on a regular basis for boosting milk production, the life span of the cattle may decrease. If the hormone is administered regularly, the cattle must be given nutritious food. Dairy owners, however, can use oxytocin for reproduction purposes, if prescribed by the veterinarians," said Purnendu Biswas, the vice-chancellor of the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences.
Abhishek Agarwal, 27, a resident of Burtolla, has been arrested on charges of siphoning off Rs 51 lakh from a trader's bank account. Police said the money was used to buy gold bullion.