India will supply key drugs being tested as coronavirus cure to “nations that have been badly affected” by the pandemic, the government said Tuesday, hours after US President Donald Trump’s stunning comments about “retaliation” if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not allow the export of anti-malarial drugs.
India, which supplies more than a quarter of the world’s generic drugs, had last month restricted exports of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them to ensure enough domestic stocks amid rising COVID-19 cases.
“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries that are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
The Foreign Ministry said given the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has always maintained that the international community “must display strong solidarity and cooperation”.
But exports of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol will be allowed depending on availability of stock after meeting domestic requirements and existing orders.
The foreign ministry said the two would be in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. “However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted,” the spokesperson said.
In a notification on March 25, the government announced a hold on the medicine’s export, adding that it would be allowed only on a “case-to-case basis” on humanitarian grounds.
At a White House briefing hours ago, Donald Trump had said “there may be retaliation” if India does not agree to export hydroxychloroquine, a key anti-malarial drug being tested as a coronavirus cure.
The foreign ministry spokesperson alleged “unnecessary controversy” on COVID-19-related drugs. “Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people,” said Srivastava, on restricting exports of drugs. The restrictions had been largely lifted after the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies have been confirmed, he said.
Trump has described hydroxychloroquine as a “game-changer” though it is yet to be established as an effective cure for COVID-19.
India has 4,421 coronavirus cases, including 114 deaths. Globally, the US has the highest number of cases. The coronavirus death count has crossed 10,000-mark in America; over 366,000 have contracted infection so far.