COVID-19 impact: Government lifts ban on the export of anti-viral drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)

ST Staff
Thursday, 11 June 2020

The drug, which was earlier proven to be successful in curing several cases of COVID-19, was requested by several countries, including the US, Latin America and Europe.

Sadananda Gowda, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, declared on Wednesday about the Centre's decision to lift the ban on the export of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). The anti-viral drug, which is traditionally used for treating malaria, has proven to be a possible cure for the deadly coronavirus disease in several countries. This also included US President Donald Trump, who believes that it can ward off COVID-19 in an effective way.

"The Department of Pharmaceuticals has approved the lifting of the ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine API as well as formulations. Manufacturers except for SEZ/EOU Units have to supply 20 per cent production in the domestic market. DGFT has been asked to issue a formal notification in this regard," Gowda tweeted.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade passed a notice (09/2015-20) on June 10, 2020, as soon as the Minister announced the decision. The notification issued will modify the policies of export on diagnostic kits, laboratory reagents and diagnostic apparatus.

The notification issued by DGFT which deals with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry read as, "The notification No. 59 dated 04.04.2020 is amended to the extent that only diagnostic kits/reagents as described in para 1(A) and all diagnostic instruments/apparatus/reagents as described in para 1(B) falling under any HS code, including HS codes specified above, are 'restricted' for exports whether as an individual item or as a part of any diagnostic kits/reagent."

Hydroxychloroquine has proven to be a possible remedy to the life-threatening virus to the extent that even the US President Donald Trump endorses it and has called it a 'game-changer'. In India, the drug has been provided to the daily labourers and workers for preventive usage.

On the other hand, according to various studies and research conducted, has claimed that hydroxychloroquine fails to treat the coronavirus disease, many have said that the anti-viral drug is ineffective on COVID-19 positive patients and does not show any improvement in their recovery.

However, earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) restarted the clinical trials of HCQ after the drug was dropped from global studies into an experimental treatment for the deadly disease.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also received a lot of personal requests from world leaders to allow the export of hydroxychloroquine to their respective nations. The requests have been received from all over the world, including the US, Latin America, Europe and even the Gulf countries. 


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