HCQ supply doubled in domestic market to prevent hoarding


NEW DELHI: The government doubled supply of
hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets in the domestic market to address possible hoarding after despatching the drug to countries on the “first list” based on criteria like pending requests, neighbourhood and countries worst affected by Covid-19, MEA additional secretary Damu Ravi said.

Addressing reports of shortage, government officials said there were sufficient stocks of HCQ in the country to meet demand and also for a buffer. The government estimates that India needs 1.6 crore tablets until the end of the month and kept 3.28 crore tablets, health ministry joint secretary
Lav Agarwal said.

The figures were provided in response to some opposition politicians like Shashi Tharoor saying India was risking shortage to give in to the
United States and other international demands. Congress leader
Rahul Gandhi also pointed to the need to ensure domestic supplies. Ravi said the ban on drug
exports had been reviewed by the empowered group of ministers and the committee of secretaries, keeping in view domestic priorities.

“Having kept a buffer stock, the government decided to release some surplus medicines, including HCQ and
paracetamol, for export,” he said. The countries first receiving the exports are those who had ordered before the ban kicked in.

The countries who would be prioritised would be those whose infection levels are high as will neighbouring countries. HCQ is being given to frontline health workers, ward boys and those in direct contact with a Covid-19 patient as prophylactic, but only with a doctor’s prescription. However, the buzz around HCQ exports led to some amount of hoarding, according to government sources.

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