The Union health ministry has restricted the sale and distribution of 'hydroxychloroquine' stating it as an essential drug to meet the requirements of any emergency arising due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The order issued on Thursday said that in public interest, it was necessary and expedient to regulate and restrict the sale and distribution of the drug and preparation based thereon for preventing misuse.
"The Central government is satisfied that the drug 'hydroxychloroquine' is essential to meet the requirements of emergency arising due to pandemic COVID-19 and in the public interest, it is necessary and expedient to regulate and restrict the sale and distribution of the drug and preparation based thereon for preventing their misuse," it said.
"Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 26B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (23 of 1940), the Central Government hereby directs that sale by retail of any preparation containing the drug hydroxychloroquine shall be in accordance with the conditions for sale of drugs specified in Schedule H1 to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945," it stated.
This order shall come into force on the date of its publication in the official gazette. ICMR has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medication for healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and also asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases.
The treatment protocol recommended by the ICMR has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for restricted use in emergency situations.