The Ministry of External Affairs in a statement on Tuesday said that India will licence paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all neighbouring countries who are dependent on India's capabilities. The statement added that India will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. "We would, therefore, discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter," the Ministry said.
"We have seen some attempts by sections of the media to create unnecessary controversy over the issue of COVID19 related drugs and pharmaceuticals. Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people. In order to ensure this, some temporary steps were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products. In the meanwhile, a comprehensive assessment was made of possible requirements under different scenarios. After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted. The DGFT has notified lifting restrictions on 14 drugs yesterday. With regard to paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted.
Given the enormity of the COVID19 pandemic, India has always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation. This approach also guided our evacuation of nationals of other countries. In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We would therefore discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter."
The Central government has also removed restrictions on the export of 24 Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and their formulations, the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry said on Monday. The notice said APIs and formulation made from these APIs are made free for export, with immediate effect. These include Tinidazole, Metronidazole, Acyclovir, Vitamin BI, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12.
The development comes after several countries including the USA have reached to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the supply of the medicine. India's Directorate General of Foreign Trade on March 25 banned the export of Hydroxychloroquine but said that certain shipments on humanitarian grounds may be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
Members of the SAARC bloc and Indonesia and the UAE have requested India to lift the export ban on hydroxychloroquine, as they stare at a shortage of the drug primarily used for rheumatoid arthritis and long-term autoimmune disease lupus. According to reports, several other European countries have also requested India for the supply of hydroxychloroquine.
US President Donald Trump said he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to supply hydroxychloroquine tablets that can be used to treat COVID-19 patients in his country, which now has the highest number of cases in the world. "I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning. They make large amounts of Hydroxychloroquine. India is giving it serious consideration," Trump said at his daily news conference at the White House last week.
With Brazilian President Bolsonaro, PM Modi discussed the global situation in the wake of the pandemic. After PM Modi, Bolsonaro also tweeted in Portuguese about his discussion with the Prime Minister, saying he requested the latter for support in the continuity of the supply of pharmaceutical inputs for the production of hydroxychloroquine.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would be surprised if India did not allow the export of Hydroxychloroquine tablets to the United States despite a request made to New Delhi over the subject.
“So, I would be surprised if that were his decision. He'd have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we'd appreciate your allowing our supply to come out. If he doesn't allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn't there be?" Trump said.
(With PTI inputs)