What is Hydroxychloroquine, and why is it in the news?
You may not pronounce it but you must be hearing or reading about it a lot. Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug has been hailed as the top fighter against Covid 19.
India agreed to export this drug after the US President Donald Trump asked Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to uplift the ban on its export. Later the US president thanked India for the cooperation against the pandemic.
India, the largest supplier of the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), had banned its exports in early March. Although it is not 100 percent proven that hydroxychloroquine could cure COVID-19, it has generated massive interest after Trump endorsed the drug.
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malaria drug, which is used to treat the disease in areas where malaria is sensitive to chloroquine. It is an anti-inflammatory drug, hence is used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus as well.
But can it cure COVID-19?
HCQ has not yet been proven to cure coronavirus. Studies have shown that the drug can reduce viral loads in COVID-19 patients. Clinical trials are on in certain countries like the US, UK, Spain and Australia, but experts suggest that larger clinical trials are needed on patients to test the effectiveness of the drug.
India lifts the ban
After a 12-day ban, the Indian government lifted curbs on the drug to meet export commitments. The government has decided to licence HCQ in appropriate quantities to neighboring countries and nations that have been badly affected by the pandemic.
India, the largest supplier
India is the largest supplier of HCQ in the world. Mumbai-based Ipca Laboratories is the largest manufacturer in the country. Over 80 percent of the Indian domestic HCQ market is held by Ipca, followed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila. Other players like Wallace Pharmaceuticals, Intas, McW Healthcare, Macleods and Cipla also produce HCQ.