Hydroxychloroquine: what is it and can it help fight Covid-19?

Clay Curtis
April 8, 2020

The South Asian country - which is the largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, a drug touted by Trump as a "game-changer" in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic - had on April 4 said the export of the drug and formulations made from it would "remain prohibited, without any exception", as its own COVID-19 cases were beginning to spike.

The United States obtained 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the drug and chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Last month, the new Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had met the Indian envoy and in a tweet said, "Malaysia and India's relationship must be nurtured and consolidated to ensure we explore a new chapter together, looking forward to stronger ties for our mutual benefit".

"I spoke to him [.] we had a very good talk". Trump said on Monday.

The Modi government on Monday made a decision to lift a ban on the export of the drug hydroxychloroquine.

President Donald Trump indirectly owns a minute stake in a company that makes the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he has been aggressively promoting as a treatment for the coronavirus, and was lobbied to use it by Fox News host Laura Ingraham and two doctors who frequently come on her show, reports The Washington Post.

'HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. Two federal agencies have already placed purchase orders for the drug.

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The 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines accounted for 10% of all Indian pharmaceutical exports and includes several antibiotics, such as tinidazole and erythromycin, the hormone progesterone and Vitamin B12.

The president himself, according to Peter Baker, Katie Rogers, David Enrich, and Maggie Haberman has a financial interest in Sanofi, the French pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug under the brand Plaquenil.

India had allowed exports earlier as effectively to different countries on humanitarian grounds on case to case foundation on the advice of the ministry of exterior affairs. "Why wouldn't there be", Trump had said. With the latest decision, export of HCQ will be allowed on a case-by-case basis, after the manufacturers obtain a no-objection certificate from the government.

The Indian foreign ministry swiftly backtracked and on Tuesday said it would now license the export of the drug and paracetamol - exports of which were restricted in March - "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", he added, without specifying which countries.

"Friendship isn't about retaliation".

This did not convince many advocacy groups within India. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we'd appreciate your allowing our supply to come out.

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