Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has lifted the ban on export of hydroxychloroquine immediate effect. Centre had banned the export of this anti-malarial drug n March after it was touted as a possible treatment for coronavirus.
In a notification on Thursday, DGFT said that it has amended the export policy of hydroxychloroquine API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) and its formulations, lifting the export ban on them. On June 10 Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Sadananda Gowda had said that the Department of Pharmaceuticals has approved the lifting of ban on export of hydroxychloroquine API as well as formulations.
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. This had sparked the popularity of the drug, followed by a ban on its export.
In a recent test, hydroxychloroquine was found ineffective in curing coronavirus infection. However, it has been deemed capable of preventing COVID-19 infection.India is the largest producer and exporter of hydroxychloroquine globally, an old and inexpensive treatment for malaria.
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 $1.22 billion in April-January 2019-20. During the same period exports of formulations made from hydroxycholoroquine were at $5.50 billion.
Although export 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.
(With PTI inputs)