A common medication used to treat and prevent malaria is Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) (formula- C18H26ClN3O). It is used as an oral treatment and is currently being studied for treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
India is one of the top producers of hydroxychloroquine drug in the world. India itself produces 70% of the total drug produced in the entire world as per a statement given by the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) secretary-general Sudarshan Jain.
Why is everyone after this drug?
Soon after there was a ban imposed on the exports of the essential drugs from India, several neighboring countries started asking India to lift up the ban including the USA. USA President, Donal Trump asked Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi to lift up the ban and provide the essential drug called hydroxychloroquine.
The hydroxychloroquine drug is an antimalarial drug used for the critical care of malaria-affected patients. Due to this drug being effective in the current scenario in fighting against the coronavirus, a huge surge in demand for this drug has come up in the international market. Every country is looking at India for support in the form of export of Hydroxychloroquine tablets to their country.
Is India capable of supplying Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to the world?
The top pharma companies manufacturing HCQ in India are Ipca Laboratories, Zydus Cadila and Wallace Pharmaceuticals.
The country has a capacity of producing 20 crore tablets of 200mg each per month that is equivalent to 40 tonnes of hydroxychloroquine, HCQ. The pharma companies have stated that they are ready for ramping up the production in case of the surge in coronavirus cases or requirements.
As per Ashok Kumar Madan, Executive Director, Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA), the annual production capacity of India stands at 40 metric tonnes of API’s of HCQ and with that 200 million tablet of HCQ of 200 mg each can be produced annually.
Why other countries don’t produce much of HCQ?
The hydroxychloroquine tablet is used for malaria treatment and is much alike to chloroquine drug with much fewer side effects.
Developed countries like the USA, Japan, Germany, etc., have almost zero cases of malaria annually and due to which they produce less or nil amount of HCQ throughout the year. Due to the COVID-19 disease outbreak and with no confirmed medication for the same the HCQ has proven to be the closest drug to provide some relief.
The HCQ was recommended to be used as a preventive medication for COVID-19 high-risk group by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). As per the prescriptions provided by the doctors, each patient suffering from COVID-19 needs to complete a 14-tablet course. As the government has already ordered 10 crore pills for the same, it means 71 lakh affected people can be treated from the ordered pills.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has crossed all the borders and is spreading across the globe rapidly, it has created a sudden interest in an anti-malarial and anti-inflammatory drug known as HCQ or Hydroxychloroquine. It’s being called “one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine” notably by U.S. President Donald Trump and despite inconclusive scientific evidence, the drug is being used as a treatment for the coronavirus.
As the drug is not a proven method for the coronavirus disease or the COVID-19 disease due to the absence of regulatory approvals but is being used currently by the medicals staff as a preventive measure and is being provided to the patients only through proper prescriptions.
The dire need for hydroxychloroquine worldwide has increased the pressure on Indian Pharma companies to ramp up their production so that not only the domestic needs can be satisfied but also the neighboring countries in the need can be helped.