India Partially Lifts Ban on HCQ, Guj Firms to Export It to US

India is the largest exporter of of this hydroxychloroquine tablets which is used to treat malaria.

3 min read

With the coronavirus outbreak creating additional demand for anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday, 7 April, said that three companies from the state will export it to the United States.

India has decided to partially lift a ban on export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, paving the way for its supply to the US and several other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Government officials said India would export hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol on a case-by-case basis to the countries which have already placed orders for them after meeting the domestic requirements.

In an interview to a private radio station, Rupani said that his government has kept aside a crore hydroxychloroquine tablets to deal with any eventuality.

“Gujarat is shining the world over. US President Trump has been vigorously demanding that drug from India. Now, when the Centre has given permission for its export, Gujarat is all set to send it to the United States,” said Rupani.

"Three Gujarat-based companies have already started production of that drug to be supplied to the US. To be on the safer side, we have kept aside one crore tablet for our own use," he added.


India Lifts Ban Post Trump’s Warning of Retaliation

The decision to partially lift the ban on hydroxychloroquine came hours after US President Donald Trump warned of retaliation if India does not heed to his request to supply the drug, cited by him as a viable therapeutic solution to fight coronavirus infection.

“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities.”
Anurag Srivastava, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs

“We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations which have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic,” he added, responding to queries on the issue.

On 25 March, India banned export of hydroxychloroquine in the midst of views in some quarters that the drug could be used to fight COVID-19. India is the largest exporter of of this inexpensive drug. It is learnt that high-ranking officials of India and the US were engaged over the issue of supply HCQ to the US by certain Indian companies following telephonic conversation between Modi and Trump and the decision to ease restrictions on export of the drug was result of a process.

The assessment in the government on Trump'’s comment on "retaliation" is that his response was not pre-meditated and that it was an instantaneous reaction by the US President when put on the spot. There was indication that the decision to lift the partial ban on the two drugs was taken at a high-level meeting last night.

India is learnt to have received requests from at least 20 countries including its immediate neighbours Sri Lanka and Nepal for supply of hydroxychloroquine.

The Trump administration has already created a national strategic stockpile of 29 million doses of the malaria drug, anticipating that its test results on more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York is yielding positive results.

Global scientists, racing against time to find either a vaccine or a therapeutic cure to the virus, have begun testing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as options for potential COVID-19 treatments. The US Food and Drug Administration last week issued an Emergency Use Authorisation for the prescription of the drug in certain circumstances.

In addition to New York, COVID-19 patients in several States are being treated with hydroxychloroquine, including Michigan and Texas.

According to Trump, the drug is yielding positive results. If successful, he said that it would be a gift from heaven.

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