In wake of the coronavirus outbreak in India, the central government on Wednesday banned export of anti-malarial drug hydroxylcloroquine with immediate effect. The government has taken this decision to meet its domestic demand amid rising cases of Covid-19.
The development came two days after Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for preemptive treatment of healthcare workers handling suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases and also the asymptomatic household contacts of the lab-confirmed cases.
"The export of hydroxycloroquine and formulations made from hydroxycloroquine is prohibited with immediate effect," the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) notified on Wednesday. The DGFT is an arm of the commerce ministry which deals with export and import-related matters.
The agency, however, said that the government will permit export of the medicine on humanitarian grounds on case-to-case basis on the recommendation of Ministry of External Affairs.
As per the notification, export will also be allowed from the special economic zones/export oriented units and in cases where the outbound shipment is made to fulfil export obligation under any advance authorisation license issued on or before the date of this notification, which is March 25, 2020.
"Export will be allowed in case of shipments where irrevocable letter of credit has been issued before the date of this notification or in case where full advance payment has been received by the exporter in India against specific shipment, subject to submission of documentary evidence," it added.
The demand for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related compound, has risen sharply in last few days after US President Donald Trump said that these salts were effective in treating COVID-19. People are panic buying the medicine.
In the last few weeks, India has banned exports of various medical devices such as sanitisers, all types of ventilators and surgical masks.
By Chitranjan Kumar with PTI inputs