Hydroxychloroquine, sold under the brand name Plaquenil among others, is a medication used to prevent and treat malaria in areas where malaria remains sensitive to chloroquine.
The National Task Force for Covid-19 constituted by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for the people who might have corona virus. The Union health ministry issued an advisory on the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, which is being cited by many a drug that can treat Covid-19. Although no 100% surety tests have been done, but this is the closest to a vaccine we can get right now.
As of now, there is no specific anti-viral medication against Covid-19. Only in preclinical laboratory studies, HCQ was found effective against coronavirus.
With no “adequate, approved and available” alternative, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is allowing the use of the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The FDA’s emergency use authorisation (EUA) issued recently gives physicians the option to prescribe the drugs, which President Donald Trump has recommended. Under the EUA, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can be used only in a hospital setting to treat COVID-19 in adults and adolescents who weigh at least 50 kg and are not able to participate in a clinical trial. The drugs must also be obtained from the national stockpile to protect the supply for other patients who have relied on the drugs for years to control autoimmune diseases including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Along with all the concern, backlash and pushback are also taking rounds. “Public figures should refrain from promoting unproven therapies to the public and instead provide clear messages around the uncertainties we face in testing and using experimental treatments during the current pandemic, including the risk for serious adverse events.”
But 3 days after the EUA, a surge in demand forced the agency to declare a shortage of both drugs. Now this is when Mr Trump hinted about the drug in context to PM Modi. Mr Trump warned of “retaliation” if India did not drop the ban on hydroxychloroquine exports. India was shocked after this remark. After seeing the “Namaste Trump” event and the loving gestures between Indian PM and Mr Trump, this was not at all expected.
But if we look at the larger picture, we realise that Trump has always thought about his nation while Modi tried to maintain international relations. Crores of fund was spent on Trumps welcome to India, but he did not even once think about his “retaliation”, he strongly cares about the well being of his citizens.
Now after this huge threat, India has temporarily licensed the export of paracetamol and anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in appropriate quantities to some countries, which have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
India is said to export hydroxychloroquine only to foreign governments, not to private companies. Hydroxychloroquine continues to be a prohibited item, and private-to-private company or a domestic exporter-to-foreign importer trade is banned, the officials said. The procedure, which the government is adopting, is to help countries which are in dire need or which are traditionally dependent on India for this medicine or friendly countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan, according to them.
In a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Donald Trump had sought the supply of hydroxychloroquine to the U.S. partly because Modi had no other choice. Hydroxychloroquine is an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria. India is the largest producer and exporter of the drug globally. India is learned to have received requests from over 20 countries including its immediate neighbours. India exported hydroxychloroquine API worth $1.22 billion in April-January 2019-20. During the same period exports of formulations made from hydroxychloroquine were at $5.50 billion.
This is how President Trump thanked PM Modi for his kind (forced) gesture towards the USA.
Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal said that India has a stock of 3.28 crore tablets of hydroxychloroquine, which is three time more than the projected requirement of one crore tablets in the country for the coming week and that tie-ups have been made for additional supply of 2 to 3 crore tablets for the future need. Officials said India would export the drug on a case-by-case basis after meeting all the domestic requirements.
The PM of Israel has also thanked India for its supply of the essential drug. Even if there was any bad blood between India and Israel, it has faded now due to this kind gesture. “Thank you, my dear friend @narendramodi, Prime Minister of India, for sending Chloroquine to Israel. All the citizens of Israel thank you!”, Netanyahu said in a tweet.
Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil has also thanked PM Modi for the supply of this magic drug. Bolsonaro compared India’s move to the legend of Hanuman bringing Sanjeevani booti for Lakshman in the epic Ramayana.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, president of Srilanka has also thanked Modi for the drug. India has sent a 10-tonne consignment of essential life-saving medicines, including hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol, to Sri Lanka in view of the Covid-19 crisis.
Mohamed Nasheed, president of Maldives, has also tweeted about receiving vital food and medicine at this difficult time.
“Thank you @narendramodi and the Government of India for approving the export of paracetamol to the UK. Global cooperation is critical in the fight against #COVID19. UK and India have track record of working together as a #ForceforGood tackling global challenges.” said the tweet by Jan Thompson, from United Kingdom has also thanked Modi for his kind gesture.
Globally, India is emerging as a true friend of humanity during these tough times. Once upon a time, they said, “what is known about India other than its poverty?” Well, look now how the tables have turned!