Hydroxychloroquine: Why Used for COVID-19 & Demand by Other Countries from India?

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Amid COVID-19 outbreak globally, the demand for Hhydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets became the news headlines in the media. And recently it became the global newscast when India strictly banned this drug for the coronavirus infected patients treatment and US is demanding this drug strictly to save the lives of people suffering from COVID-19.      

Actually, out of 210 affected countries, US is the one of the most highly infected countries in the world, where more than half-million people are diseased with COVID-19 infection and tens of thousands of people died because of this deadly virus. 

COVID-19 is a deadly infection, as there no vaccine or specific medicine yet developed, and it very contagious disease, spreading among people worldwide. But as per the recent studies and experiments, Hydroxychloroquine is becoming very helpful in curing the patients with encouraging results to become a ray of hope for the doctors. 

Also Read: Why Vaccine Development Process for New Diseases Like Coronavirus Takes 12 to 18 Months

So, let’s find what exactly this drug is used for, why US is demanding this medicine and why India banned to expert and later lifted the ban or other stories like the role of Hydroxychloroquine in Indian pharma companies.  

What is Hydroxychloroquine Drug and Use in Medication?

Hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug available for an oral tablet in the brand-name drug Plaquenil. It’s also available in a generic version. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name drug.

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Basically, Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. As, Hydroxychloroquine is very similar to chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs, but with lesser side effects.

Why Hydroxychloroquine is Used for Covid 19?

Hydroxychloroquine is very similar to chloroquine, one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs, but with lesser side effects. It can be bought over the counter in India and is fairly inexpensive. But its purchase and use was severely restricted as hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment is used due to its antiviral properties.

Image Credit: Forbes India

Indian Council of Medical Research has recommended hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, to be used as a preventive medication for COVID-19 patients in the high-risk group. It has also recommended the use of the drug for healthcare workers involved in the treatment of the disease and for asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed patients.

Image Credit: Forbes India

Each COVID-19 patient reportedly needs 14 tablet course and so the 10 crore pills ordered by the government can potentially treat over 71 lakh people.

Watch Video: 3 Ways Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine May Help Fight COVID-19


Why Hydroxychloroquine is Made in India?

In India, due to seasonal effect – post monsoon malaria rises mainly due to mesquite bite. And because of this drug is highly in demand in India, while it is not manufactured in developed nations like U.S. because malaria is virtually non-existent there.

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India manufactures 70% of the world’s supply of hydroxychloroquine. Ipca Laboratories, Zydus Cadila and Wallace Pharmaceuticals are top hydroxychloroquine manufacturer companies in India.

India gets the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) that is used to manufacture HCQ from China and supplies so far has been steady. As much as 70 percent of all the APIs needed by India to manufacture drugs come from China.

All these companies can produce 40 tonnes, or 20 crore hydroxychloroquine tablets of 200 mg each, which is sufficient to meet the current demand. And within months they planned to increase five to six times to over 70 metric tonnes.

Peak capacity would produce 35 crores (350 million) tablets of 200 mg dosage every month. India’s own requirement is unlikely to exceed 10 crore tablets for which the government has already placed an order with leading domestic manufacturers Zydus Cadila and Ipca Laboratories.

Industry experts say 10 crore tablets are good enough to treat seven crore people, if required. In India, HCQ costs less than Rs 3 per tablet.

Why hydroxychloroquine is banned by India to Export?

Actually, Hydroxychloroquine is an inexpensive and easily available drug. However, its demand has risen dramatically ever since it was named as a possible treatment for COVID-19. India hydroxychloroquine manufacturer companies can produce it at large scale.

Image Credit: Forbes India

Few days back the government banned the export of the drug “without any exception”. The order came even as the number of positive cases of COVID-19 spiked in the country. However, due to overseas demand, the government partially lifted the ban, paving the way for its supply to the US and several other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The unexpected demand for such drugs from India providing an opportunity for the HCQ to make pharma companies to produce and export the medicine at large scale to add their topline growth. At the same dependency of other nations on India will improve its global presence helping them in such need and play a key role in fighting with this pandemic.

Watch Video: What Is Hydroxychloroquine & Why is it in Demand for COVID-19

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