India lifts restrictions on HCQ exports as country is well stocked

The drug too has lost steam in the global market with the World Health Organisation (WHO) suspending the HCQ arm of its Solidarity trial again this week
India on Thursday lifted restrictions on exports of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as there is enough stock in the market. In a notification the Directorate General of Foreign Trade lifted any prohibitions on the export of the drug. 

Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Sadananda Gowda had tweeted a few days back that "Department of Pharmaceuticals has approved the lifting of ban on Export of Hydroxychloroquine API as well as formulations." He had added that all units except those in special economic zones or export-oriented units will have to supply 20 per cent of their production to the domestic market. A formal notification was expected in this regard. 

Exports, however, were happening on humanitarian grounds to several countries. In fact in May alone India exported about $15 million of HCQ in May, almost 50 per cent up from $10 million in April. Since HCQ is a low value item (Rs 2 or so per tablet), this means the export volumes have been high - over 400-600 million tablets per month. 

The drug too has lost steam in the global market with the World Health Organisation (WHO) suspending the HCQ arm of its Solidarity trial again this week. Some clinicians have observed that there was no benefit from the drug in reducing death. 

WHO had suspended the trials once before too. Emergency Use Authorisation of the drug was also revoked in the US recently. 

In the domestic market, India sold over 220 million tablets since March, according to industry estimates. The government has picked up stock for 100 million tablets by April. Each patient requires either five to nine tablets. Going by that, the stock would last for months as it can cater to about 10 million people.

India had banned exports of the drug that was touted as a miracle drug for Covid19. India continues to use it as a prophylactic against covid19 in healthcare workers and immediate caregivers to patients. 

In April US  President Donald Trump had threatened retaliation if the drug was not supplied to US. Since April India has been exporting the drug to many countries including the US. 


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