NEWS COVID DRUG
NEW DELHI: Hydroxychloroqine is basically a drug used against Malaria. India is the biggest manufacturer of the drug, which was recently found to be effective against Covid-19. This finding was done by Chinese doctors who worked on patients. With the US getting caught in the Covid-19 virus spread, President Trump called up PM Modi on Saturday, urging him to facilitate urgent export of the drug to the US. India had a short while ago restricted the exports of some drugs like hydroxychloroquine, and Trump’s request came in this context.
India announced on Tuesday that it would lift the controls on export of several drugs in view of the health crisis in various countries in the context of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
India manufactures 70 per cent of the world’s supply of hydroxychloroquine, according to Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) secretary-general Sudarshan Jain. PTI quoted him as saying that India has a production capacity of 40 tonnes of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) every month. This meant production of 20 crore tablets of 200 mg. And since the drug is also used to auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, manufacturers have good production capacities that can also be ramped up. Ipca Laboratories, Zydus Cadila and Wallace Pharmaceuticals are top pharma companies manufacturing HCQ in India.
Jain was quoted as saying that the production capacity was sufficient to meet the current demand and if required, the companies would rampup production. Developed countries do not produce this drug as malaria, spread by mosquitoes, is non-existent in those nations.
Hydroxychloroquine is very similar to chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs, but with lesser side-effects. It can be bought over the counter and fairly inexpensive. But its purchase and use has been severely restricted as it was selectively used in the treatment of coronavirus because of its antiviral properties.
India gets the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) that is used to manufacture HCQ from China and supplies so far have been steady. Some 70 per cent of all the APIs needed by India to manufacture drugs come from China.
Pharma industry officials said the country has enough stock of HCQ and companies were ready to ramp up the capacity to meet domestic requirements as well as exports.
“The Government has withdrawn the restrictions on 12 products and its formulations. Various scenarios are being assessed and it will be the endeavour to meet both the domestic demand and export obligation for Paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine,” Jain was quoted as saying.
Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) executive director Ashok Kumar Madan said: “India needs around 24 million tablets per year as on date for the three indications — malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, it was being used”. India currently has an annual installed capacity of around 40 metric tonnes of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) of hydroxy=chloroquine. With this capacity, “we can make around 200 million tablets of 200 mg”, he was quoted by PTI as saying.
India exported hydroxy chloroquine API in April-January 2019-20 period worth $1.22 billion. During the same period, exports of formulations made from hydroxychloroquine were at $5.50 billion. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommended that HCQ be used as a preventive medication for COVID-19 high-risk group. –IHN-NN
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