The Indian External Affairs Ministry on Tuesday confirmed that the country will be supplying the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to the US and other neighbouring countries.
“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would license paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries which 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", Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said while discouraging any speculation or attempts to politicise the matter.
India has claimed that with its stocks it has the capacity to produce over 200 million tablets every month. On Saturday, US President Donald Trump said that he had asked India to supply HCQ to the US.
The External Affairs Ministry has discouraged politicisation of the issue, while also taking into consideration Trump’s remark on Monday where he threatened India with retaliation if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not supply the malarial drug to the US.
“India does very well with the United States", Trump said at coronavirus briefing on 6 April. Trump added that he’d be surprised if Modi doesn’t allow hydroxychloroquine shipments. “If he doesn’t allow it to come out, of course there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?", POTUS said.
The Indian External Affairs Ministry, however, has stated that sections of the media are trying to “create unnecessary controversy over the issue of COVID-19-related drugs and pharmaceuticals”.
The ministry later assured that the country has adequate stocks of medicine for its own people and while referring to an earlier ban said that it was a temporary step to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products.
"After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted. The DGFT has notified lifting restrictions on 14 drugs yesterday. With regard to paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted", the ministry spokesperson said.
On Monday, the Indian Health Ministry also dismissed US claims of HCQ being an effective treatment for COVID-19, which the US president has been promoting “following hopeful studies in France and China”.
The COVID-19 pandemic, so far, has infected almost 1,350,000 people around the world, killing almost 75,000. As per data available, European countries and the US are those most affected by the pandemic. Over 360,000 cases have already been confirmed in the US, with almost 11,000 deaths.