India eases hydroxychloroquine export curb after Trump’s warning

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The development comes hours after US President Donald Trump said that if India does not allow supply of hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US, there may be “retaliation.” Trump also discussed the export ban with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the weekend.

According to reports, about half of US’ supply of the drug is from India. “I spoke to him (Modi) Sunday morning, called him, and I said, we’d appreciate you allowing our supply to come out. If he doesn’t allow it to come out. That would be OK. But of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?” Trump said at a White House press briefing. The US has been badly hit by the pandemic with over 307,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 8,300 fatalities, according to the World Health Organization.

“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) 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,” Srivastava said. Srivastava said that the domestic demand position of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol will be continuously monitored to ensure that there is no dearth of these drugs in India.

“However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted,” he added. Trump has been pushing for use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in treatment for the disease, which has no cure or vaccine yet. There is dearth of research and clinical trials on this treatment strategy but it is being used in a number of countries in treating COVID-19 and has thrown up some encouraging results.

Apart from malaria, hydroxychloroquine is used in the treatment of several ailments, including some autoimmune disorders. Last month, India’s National Task Force for COVID-19 had recommended use of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis, or preventive treatment, of COVID-19 for high-risk population groups–asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in care of confirmed or suspected cases of the disease and asymptomatic household contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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