10 April 2020
New Delhi: The Centre on Friday said it has stock of 3.28 crore hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets, three times the projected domestic requirement. It also approved the first list of countries for the HCQ export.
A Ministry of External Affairs official said HCQ is high on demand globally and several countries have made requests to India.
"Taking in view domestic requirements and stock availability, the Group of Ministers (GoM) has decided to release some surplus medicine for export purposes. The first list of countries has been approved and the products have started to leave. We are now working on the second and the third list. Domestic requirement is a priority for the government", said the MEA official.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said 3.28 crore tablets of HCQ are available for domestic use. This quantity is thrice the projected requirement for the country. This quantity is enough for the month-end requirement.
"We need 1.62 crore tablets till month-end and the stock we have is in fact in excess of 3 crore tablets. We have already arranged for 2 to 3 crore extra tablets for domestic supply. For the country's requirement, domestic production is 100 per cent ensured for HCQ, just not for today but this production has been ensured for the future", said Agarwal.
He added to ensure the availability of HCQ in the private sector, as this tablet is only given on physician prescription, 2 crore tablets have already been out at state level.
HCQ, also known as the malaria drug, is touted famously by US President Donald Trump, as a potential cure for covid-19 though there is only anecdotal evidence on this.
Anecdotal studies have shown HCQ can reduce viral loads in COVID-19 patients. Clinical trials are on in certain countries like the US, UK, Spain and Australia. Experts suggest that larger clinical trials are needed on patients to ascertain the effectiveness of the drug against the viral infection.
The MEA official added that 20,473 foreign nationals have been evacuated from India as of Thursday, and soon a decision will be taken, at a later stage, on the return of Indians from abroad.