India on Tuesday temporarily licensed the export of Paracetamol and anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in appropriate quantities to some neighbouring countries which have been particularly badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and are dependent on India for it. Reacting to this, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi 'welcomed' the move but said that lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians first. This is after the MEA in its statement on the export nod had said "our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people."
Taking to Twitter the Congress leader wrote, "India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first." In his tweet, Rahul Gandhi also wrote "Friendship isn't about retaliation" in an obvious reference to US President Donald Trump statement on Monday where he hinted at a possible retaliation if India does not lift its hold on the export of Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug used in the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Friendship isn’t about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 7, 2020
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.
Here is the full statement by the MEA:
"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."
Earlier, 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. Additionally, it was allowed in case of shipments where the irrevocable letter of credit was already issued or in the case where the full advance payment was received by the exporter in India against specific shipment.