Countries across the globe are fighting their battles with the deadly Coronavirus pandemic. As the fight continues, India, on April 7, partially eased the ban on the export of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol to the countries which are worse affected by the pandemic outbreak.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava issued a statement in the matter asserting that India would license hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol in appropriate quantities to neighbouring countries and other countries in need on ‘humanitarian aspects of the pandemic’. He further called for discouraging any speculations and politicisation over exports of the drugs.
Paracetamol and HCQ have been kept under the licensed category by the government, with continuous checks on the demand positions of the drugs. In the statement, the MEA spokesperson also maintained that the government is first obligated to ensure that the stocks of medicines are adequately available for own citizens. India has eased the export restrictions on these two drugs on case-by-case basis, ensuring the export to the most-hit countries from the virus.
India is the largest producer of hydroxychloroquine. It had banned the export of the HCQ among other drugs earlier in March in order to keep an adequate supply at the domestic market amid the disruption in the global supply chain due to Coronavirus pandemic.
The Indian Council of Medical Research has stated that the hydroxychloroquine drug has proved to be effective against the COVID-19 virus in lab tests. The National Task Force for COVID-19 has also suggested using HCQ for suspected infections among asymptomatic healthcare workers taking care of COVID-19 patients.
However, the restrictions were lifted following a telephonic call between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the matter. Earlier, Trump had earlier called for New Delhi to lift the ban on the export of the drug ordered by the United States for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Later, Trump also warned of retaliation if India did not export the anti-malarial drug. India received requests for the supply of the hydroxychloroquine drug not only from the United States but from at least 20 countries including its neighbours Sri Lanka and Nepal.
As per media reports, India has also lifted restrictions on the export of as many as 24 other pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines extending support to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 7, India’s Coronavirus positive cases crossed 4,400 with the death toll reaching 114. The US recorded positive cases above 3,67,000 with over 10,000 deaths. The global COVID-19 positive cases are more than 1,348,000 with over 74 thousand deaths across multiple countries.
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