The Union Health Ministry has issued strict advice not to take an anti-malarial drug known as hydroxychloroquine except for two sets of people — healthcare workers dealing with suspected/confirmed cases, and the first contacts of confirmed cases. In a press briefing on Wednesday, joint secretary for health, Lav Aggarwal appealed people not to take this drug except for those two categories.
"There's a medicine called hydroxychloroquine. It can only be prescribed to two particular cases for use as prophylaxis — healthcare workers dealing with suspected/confirmed cases, and the first contacts of confirmed cases. No one else should use this as these are very technically defined directions," Lav Aggarwal said.
Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, the government on Wednesday banned the export of hydroxychloroquine, with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market. The drug, used for treating malaria, has been in the news after US President Donald Trump announced that his administration was working to dramatically expand access to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related compound, following promising early studies in France and China that found the drugs helped COVID-19 patients.
Excitement about treating the new Coronavirus with malaria drugs is raising hopes. But the evidence that they may help is thin, and a run on the drugs is complicating access for people who need them for rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Chloroquine and a similar drug, hydroxychloroquine, showed encouraging signs in small, early tests against the Coronavirus. But the drugs have major side effects, one reason scientists don’t want to give them without evidence of their value, even in this emergency.
(With inputs from agencies) (Photo: ANI)