Hours after US President Donald Trump said he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release the amount of hydroxychloroquine ordered by the United States, New Delhi is “considering the request”, The Indian Express has learnt.
On Saturday, before the phone call between Modi and Trump, India had banned all exports of hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that the US President has repeatedly touted as a “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19.
Sources said the issue is likely to figure during the next Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. The GoM, headed by Rajnath Singh, is likely to meet next week, possibly as early as Tuesday.
Sources said this can be viewed as an opportunity for India’s pharmaceutical industry to gain access to US markets, but a call will be taken by New Delhi only after taking into account its own “domestic requirements”. The assessment will be carried out by the ministries of health and pharmaceuticals.
Hydroxychloroquine tablets are recognised as a prophylactic for those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 — doctors, nurses, paramedics and first responders — and can be used to treat patients.
Exports of the drug and its formulations are prohibited “without any exceptions” and with immediate effect, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a order posted on its website Saturday. The trade regulator had last month restricted overseas shipments of the drug, allowing only limited exceptions on humanitarian grounds and for meeting prior commitments.
“I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning. They make large amounts of Hydroxychloroquine. India is giving it a serious consideration,” Trump told reporters at the White House Saturday.
With more than 3 lakh confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 8,000 fatalities, the US has emerged as the worst sufferers of the outbreak. And based on some initial results, the Trump administration is banking heavily on hydroxychloroquine.
Following provisional approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, the malaria drug along with a combination of other drugs is being used in the treatment of about 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York. Trump told reporters that the drug is yielding positive results — and said that if successful, it would be a gift from heaven.
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