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Decision on Cancer Drug for Infertility Cure Today

Time of India
22 February 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

India will take a final call on Tuesday on the use of controversial drug Letrozole. Though globally the drug is used against breast cancer, in India it is administered to young infertile women to help them conceive.

A 16–member committee, under special director general of health services Dr D C Jain, will meet to decide whether to ban its use for infertility. Over the years, there has been a strong suspicion that the drug’s side–effects have led to severe genetic abnormalities among babies born to infertile women.

A Union health ministry official told TOI: "After years of discussion, the committee will take a final call on whether to ban its use for inducing ovulation. However, there is no problem with the drug being used against breast cancer."

According to Dr Chandra M Gulhati, editor of Monthly Index of Medical Specialties, India, "Letrozole sold under various brand names in India – such as Letroz and Letoval – is internationally approved for the treatment of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Both, the Canadian drug regulator and the company Novartis have warned gynaecologists all over the world not to misuse it for female infertility. Research on 150 pregnancies has shown that babies born to mothers who had consumed letrozole to increase fertility have suffered from bone malformations, cardiac stenosis and cancers."
Dr Gulhati added, "Letrozole has a Rs 37 crore market in India, which is growing at 35% annually."

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