Context: India has lifted an export ban on hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug touted by the U.S. President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
More on News:
- The Department of Pharmaceuticals has approved the lifting of the ban on Export of Hydroxychloroquine API as well as formulations.
- Manufacturers, except export-oriented units and those in special economic zones, would still have to supply 20% of their production to the domestic market.
- The DoP, which comes under the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers, has asked the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to issue a notification to the effect.
- The DGFT on 4 April had banned export of hydroxychloroquine, which is being used to treat covid-19 based on limited evidence
- But it eased some of these restrictions in April and shipped 50 million tablets of the drug to the United States that month.
- It is a medication used to prevent and treat malaria in areas where malaria remains sensitive to chloroquine.
- This medication is also used, usually with other medications, to treat certain auto-immune diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis) when other medications have not worked or cannot be used.
- It is taken via the oral route.
- It is sold under the brand name Plaquenil among others.
- It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system.
- It is also being studied as an experimental treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Significance of Drug:
- Two Indian firms, Ipca Laboratories and Zydus Cadila Ltd, are the world’s largest manufacturers of the drug. Hence export can generate sufficient foreign exchange for India.
- The Indian Council of Medical Research has also been using the drug to prevent infection among healthcare workers based on theoretical evidence that hydroxychloroquine does not allow the novel coronavirus, or SARS-COV2, to attach to cells.
- It can also serve as a tool to augment India’s Soft power in Covid -19 affected countries as the country can supply the drug at minimum price to underdeveloped and vulnerable regions.
- Some organisations are doubting the efficacy of drugs like some British scientists halted a major trial after it found that the drug was “useless” at treating COVID-19 patients.
- However numerous have supported its claim to treat Covid 19 like the US Food and Drug Administration recommending its use in emergency situations.
- The World Health Organisation is conducting a trial pertaining to its efficacy after which it would be easier to deduce whether it is useful or useless against covid 19.