India lifts export ban on anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine
New Delhi, Jun 18: The government on Thursday lifted the export ban on anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine with immediate effect.
The government on March 25 had banned the export of the drug, which was touted as a promising medicine in the treatment of COVID-19 pandemic.
"The export policy of Hydroxychloroquine API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) and its formulations from prohibited to free with immediate effect," the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had also recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating healthcare workers handling suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases and also the asymptomatic household contacts of the lab-confirmed cases.
US President Donald Trump had described hydroxychloroquine as a "game changer" in the fight against COVID-19. Although exports of this medicine was banned, India shipped this anti-malarial drug in sync with its global commitment to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
India supplied paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine to over 120 countries in the last two months while ensuring the domestic supply, as these two medicines are in huge demand due to COVID-19. While paracetamol is a pain reliever, hydroxychloroquine is an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria.
India is the largest producer and exporter of the drug globally. India manufactures 70 per cent of the world's supply of hydroxychloroquine. Companies like Zydus Cadila and IPCA are the major manufacturers in the country, according to the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA). In the US market, India accounted for about 47 per cent supply of hydroxychloroquine in 2019, according to Professor at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) Rakesh Mohan Joshi.
In April, Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA) Executive Director Ashok Kumar Madan had stated that India has an annual installed capacity of around 40 tonnes of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) of hydroxychloroquine.
India exported hydroxychloroquine API worth USD 1.22 billion in April-January 2019-20. During the same period exports of formulations made from hydroxycholoroquine were at USD 5.50 billion.