India has lifted the temporary ban put on the exports of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol as there have been strong demands from importing countries, including the US. The government confirmed today (07/04) that exports of these drugs will be allowed depending on availability of stock after meeting domestic requirements. Hydroxychloroquine, a generic drug indicated for the treatment of malaria, has been found effective in treating novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) even though clinical trials are still going on to fully establish the same for all patients.
India had banned these drugs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as the country was not sure whether there is enough stock to meet the domestic requirement as the positive cases have been on a rise in India.
India is a leading exporter of these generic drugs in the world and most of India’s generic drug makers have been supplying them to other countries. The US is the largest importer of generic drugs from India.
Confirming the removal of export restriction, the spokesperson for Ministry of External Affairs, Anurag Srivastava said; “Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people. In order to ensure this, some temporary steps were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products. In the meanwhile, a comprehensive assessment was made of possible requirements under different scenarios.”
Srivastava said in a statement released on Tuesday that, “After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted. The DGFT has notified lifting restrictions on 14 drugs yesterday. With regard to paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted.”
Given the enormity of the COVID19 pandemic, India has always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation. This approach also guided our evacuation of nationals of other countries. 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. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic, the External Affairs Ministry wrote in the statement.
However, India hasn’t yet clarified that what is the current stock of these drugs in India and what would be the quantity that it would reserve for meeting the domestic medical contingency.
The US president Donald Trump had a few days ago asked Indian prime minister to ensure the supply of the drug from India as the US has been one of the most affected countries by the pandemic and it reported about 11,000 deaths and 3.68,000 confirmed cases as on Monday. The US president had also almost warned India of possible retaliation if the later fails to ensure the supply of these essential drugs in this time critical need.