Amid rising pressure to allow exports of an anti-malarial drug being tested on patients infected with coronavirus, the government is likely to take a decision tomorrow and clear the move after calculating sufficient stocks for the country.
Last month, India had banned the export of hydroxychloroquine and formulations of the malaria drug while experts test its efficacy in helping treat COVID-19 patients.
There are currently no approved treatments, or preventive vaccines for COVID-19, the highly contagious, sometimes deadly respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, is among the medications undergoing testing as a potential treatment for patients with the disease. India is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of the medicine.
American President Donald Trump on Saturday said that he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow exports of hydroxychloroquine amid a shortage in the US.
On Sunday, the government held an inter-ministerial meeting and again met on Monday to assess the domestic requirement for the anti-malarial drug.
“We have decided to go ahead with export of the drug after the Health Ministry gives its total domestic requirement plus 25 per cent extra to ensure buffer stocks are available,” a senior government official.
The export of the drug will be on a case-to-case basis based on the requests from foreign countries and their diplomatic ties with India, the source said.
“The US tops the list and there are request from around 6-7 countries like Brazil and Spain. The Ministry of External Affairs will take a call on which country should be prioritised,” he added.
The formal decision to export will be taken on Tuesday at a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, sources said.
India has already banned the export of most diagnostic testing kits, ventilators, sanitizers and personal protection equipment such as masks and clothing used in the fight against the virus, which has so far infected more than 4,000 people and killed over 100 in the country.
The ban came after India curbed the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them, including Paracetamol – a common pain reliever also sold as acetaminophen. Some of those restrictions have since been relaxed.