India gets request from 30 countries for hydroxychloroquine: All you need to know about

SAARC nations, US, Germany, UK, France, UAE, Spain, Brazil, Israel etc has requested for hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug from India to fight COVID-19.

India gets request from 30 countries for hydroxychloroquine: All you need to know about

30 countries (including SAARC nations, US, Germany, UK, France, UAE, Spain, Brazil, Israel etc.) has requested for hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug from India to fight COVID-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi have got personal requests from several world leaders during the recent conversation he had with them.

This shows India’s importance in the global pharma sector, as the request has come from several places (from the US to Latin America to Europe).

Indian PM Modi has spoken to 15 world leaders since the outbreak which includes:

  • Germany (Chancellor): Angela Merkel
  • France (President): Emmanuel Macron
  • US (President): Donald Trump
  • Brazil (President): Jair Bolsonaro
  • Russia (President): Vladimir Putin
  • UAE (Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi): Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  • Qatar (Amir): Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani
  • Spain (Prime Minister): Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon
  • Saudi Arabia (Crown prince): Mohammed bin Salman

One of the major goal to have this conversation was to plan a global strategy to deal with the crisis.

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♦Why has India got requests from different countries for hydroxychloroquine?

India is one of the largest producers of this drug. Annually, India exports around $50 million of the hydroxychloroquine that is used to treat malaria and knee pains.

Indian Pharmaceutical market:

  • Generic drugs: constitute nearly 70% of the market
  • Over the Counter (OTC) medicines: constitute 21%
  • Patented drugs: constitute 9%

The Indian Pharmaceutical market is dominated by generic drugs. India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally.

  • India has a very important position in the global pharmaceuticals sector.
  • The Indian pharmaceutical industry provides 50% of global demand for various vaccines, 40% of generic demand in the U.S. and 25% of all medicine in U.K.
  • In 2020, India is expected to be in the top 3 pharmaceutical markets in terms of incremental growth.
  • In pharmaceutical industry, India has one of the lowest manufacturing costs in the world – lower than that of the U.S. and almost half of the cost in Europe.
  • Indian pharmaceutical firms supply over 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

♦About Hydroxychloroquine

  • Hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug which comes as an oral tablet.
  • Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat “lupus erythematosus” and “rheumatoid arthritis”.
  • It is also used to prevent and treat malaria.

Hydroxychloroquine side effects:

Common side effects-

  • vomiting
  • headache
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhoea
  • dizziness

Serious side effects-

  • blurred vision or other vision changes, which may be permanent in some cases
  • heart disease, including heart failure and issues with your heart rhythm; some cases have been fatal
  • ringing in your ears or hearing loss
  • angioedema (rapid swelling of your skin)
  • hives
  • mild or severe bronchospasm
  • sore throat
  • severe hypoglycemia
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • blue-black skin color
  • muscle weakness
  • hair loss or changes in hair color
  • abnormal mood changes
  • mental health effects, including suicidal thoughts

♦Why hydroxychloroquine is in demand? What does the evidence show about the role of hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 Treatment?

  • Chinese researchers first suggested that hydroxychloroquine can block the entry of Sars-CoV-2 (the virus behind COVID-19) into the cells of the human body and thus can slow the infections from this virus. The French researchers then followed this work by Chinese researchers.
  • But more recently, a small-scale research from China has shown that there was no difference in response of the patients who were treated with the drugs and the patients who didn’t get the drug. Both types of patients fought off coronavirus in the same time. But in reality, one of the patient’s condition had severely worsened after giving the drug, while four patients on the medicine developed signs of liver damage and experienced diarrhoea.
  • In spite of these findings, by definition, any drug, which is being used for a certain purpose before full clinical trials are completed, is untested and unproven.
  • It is too early to say if hydroxychloroquine can have a major benefit or not.
  • The European Medicines Agency (an agency of the EU) has said hydroxychloroquine should not be taken by coronavirus patients except for clinical trials or emergency use programs.

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