India bans export of anti-malaria drug after Trump calls effective for treating coronavirus
On Wednesday, India banned the export of an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine with an immediate effect. The decision was taken after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Balram Bhargava on Monday suggested that the healthcare staff, who were handling the coronavirus suspected and confirmed cases, should take hydroxychloroquine to prevent further spread of the highly contagious virus. Mr. Bhargava also recommended the use of drug for the asymptomatic household members of the corona positive cases.
Government announced ban on the export of the medicine to ensure its sufficient availability in the domestic market.
On Wednesday, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), also issued a similar notification, stating, “The export of hydroxycloroquine and formulations made from hydroxycloroquine is prohibited with immediate effect”. DGFT is a commerce ministry’s wing which deals with export and import-related matters.
The government said that certain exports for the drug would continue – those on humanitarian grounds or those where shipment has been made under advance authorisation licence issued on or before March 25,2020.
The government notification added, “Export will be allowed in case of shipments where irrevocable letter of credit has been issued before the date of this notification or in case where full advance payment has been received by the exporter in India against specific shipment, subject to submission of documentary evidence.”
A report showed that after the US president Donald Trump called it a ‘game changer’ for treating covid-19, people started panic buying the drug.
Weeks ago few scientists claimed that chloroquine has been successful in treating some patients infected by the deadly coronavirus. As a result there was surge in the demand for hydroxychloroquine as it had similar salts as chloroquine.
The decision could invite global criticism as India has some of the world’s largest manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine as well as its component ingredients. The move would direct impact the global supply, especially at a time of global crisis when the medicine is receiving unprecedented demand world wide.