Hydroxychloroquine: Either by grant or commercial sale, 55 countries receive the drug from India
The global demand for hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) manufactured by India got a boost after some studies indicated that the drug, when paired with azithromycin, helped clear patients of the virus at a much faster rate than seen usually. After lifting the recent ban on the export of the drug, India is now all set to ship it out to 55 Coronavirus hit countries across the globe.
India is in the process of supplying anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to 55 coronavirus-hit countries as grants as well as on commercial basis, official sources said on Thursday.
A number of countries including the US, Mauritius and Seychelles have already received the drug in the past few days while several others will get it by the weekend, they said.
"Broadly, nations will need each other to fight this pandemic," said an Indian source with direct knowledge of the trade discussions. "Globally, there will be a new alignment of relationships."
Hydroxychloroquine has been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for the COVID-19 and it is being tested on more than 1,500 coronavirus patients in New York.
The demand for the drug has swelled rapidly in the last few days after India decided to lift a ban on its export.
In the neighbourhood, India is sending the drug to Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, sources said.
It is not immediately known whether Pakistan sought to procure the drug.
India is also supplying hydroxychloroquine to Zambia, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali Congo, Egypt, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Equador, Jamaica, Syria, Ukraine, Chad, Zimbabwe, France, Jordan, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman and Peru, the sources said.
They said it is being sent to the Philippines, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Urugway, Columbia, Algeria Bahamas, Mauritius and the United Kingdom.
The sources said the drug is being sent to several countries on a commercial basis while many others are getting it as India's grants.
In a recent telephonic conversation, US President Donald Trump requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the sale of hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in his country.
India lifted the ban on export of the drug last week, nearly two weeks after imposing a ban on its export. The announcement on lifting of the ban came hours after Trump warned India of retaliatory action if the drug is not supplied to the US. Indian officials claimed that the ban was lifted before Trump's remarks.
India is fast-tracking procedures to supply the drug to the UAE after a request from the country's government, media reports in Dubai quoted the Indian envoy as saying.
India's Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor said there is a huge demand for the anti-malarial drug from many countries and India is considering it on a case to case basis.
"As the drug is on the restricted list, we are obviously giving exception to the UAE, given the friendly relations between the two countries," Khaleej Times quoted Kapoor as saying.
The global demand for hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) manufactured by India got a boost after some studies indicated that the drug, when paired with azithromycin, helped clear patients of the virus at a much faster rate than seen usually.
“There was a request from the government of the UAE to help out with the supply of HCQ,” the Gulf News quoted Kapoor as saying.
Kapoor said a few companies in the UAE requested the government to import the drug to the country.
"We received a note verbale from the UAE government also seeking support for the supply through those companies,” he said.
"Whatever requests were made, we made sure that they reached the right authorities in the right format since this is a restricted medicine,” Kapoor said.
He said India is permitting the export of HCQ on a case-by-case basis on the request from governments of friendly countries. With the UAE government backing up the local companies’ request for import for the medicine, he said, India is fast-tracking the procedures.
In a humanitarian gesture, India on Wednesday gifted life-saving drugs, including Hydroxychloroquine tablets, to Mauritius and Seychelles to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic that has infected 2 million people worldwide.
Mauritius Vice Prime Minister Leela Devi Luchoomun Dookun received the consignment of half a million Hydroxychloroquine tablets that arrived here on Wednesday evening through a special Air India cargo flight from Delhi, the Indian High Commission in Port Louis said in a statement.