India is "considering" US President Donald Trump's request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release the amount of hydroxychloroquine ordered by the United States.
According to an Indian Express report, India had banned all exports of hydroxychloroquine, on April 4, before the phone call between the two leaders. Earlier, the US President had repeatedly touted the malaria drug as a "game-changer" in the fight against COVID-19.
Reportedly the issue is likely to be mulled upon during the next Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. The meeting is scheduled for April 7.
The move is viewed as an opportunity for India's pharmaceutical industry to gain access to US markets, but a call will be taken by the government only after considering its own "domestic requirements". The evaluation will be conducted by the ministries of health and pharmaceuticals
Hydroxychloroquine tablets are recognised as a prophylactic for those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 — doctors, nurses, paramedics and first responders — and can be used to treat patients.
India's Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in an order posted on its website on April 4 that any export of the drug and its formulations are prohibited "without any exceptions" and with immediate effect. Only limited exceptions on humanitarian grounds and for meeting prior commitments were allowed all other overseas shipments of the drug were restricted.
"I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning. They make large amounts of Hydroxychloroquine. India is giving it serious consideration," Trump told the reporters at the White House on April 4. Trump also said that the drug is showing positive results and added that if successful, it would be a gift from heaven.
The US has more than three lakh confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 8,000 fatalities has emerged as the worst hit from the pandemic. According to initial indication, they are banking heavily on hydroxychloroquine.
The US Food and Drug Administration had earlier issued a provisional approval for the malaria drug along with a combination of other drugs, which is now being used in the treatment of about 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York.
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