India prepares to supply hydroxychloroquine to America during the pandemic

The country is ready and able to begin producing 200 million tablets of the drug per month

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Tablets of hydroxychloroquine
Tablets of hydroxychloroquine
(Gerard Julien / Getty Images)
Last Updated:
April 8, 2020 - 2:27pm

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    Recent reports suggest that the drug showing the most promise in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic is hydroxychloroquine. India is currently the largest global manufacturer of the drug, typically used as an anti-malarial. Developed nations rarely produce the drug because of non-existent malaria concerns.

    Last week, India decided to add the drug to a list of pharmaceuticals that cannot be exported, as officials in the country figure out how much of the supply they will need for their fight against the virus.

    On Tuesday, however, India agreed to lift the ban on the drug, following a request from President Trump for a U.S. supply.

    Today, the President tweeted to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, thanking him for his cooperation and willingness to supply the U.S. with the life-saving pharmaceutical.

    One initial purpose of the ban was to minimize speculative buying and hoarding of the drug, and ensure that patients and areas of the global population that need treatment are able to receive it.

    India is responsible for the manufacturing of about 70% of the world’s hydroxychloroquine, and has a production capacity of 200 million tablets of the drug per month because of its common usage in treating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

    The secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance says the the country’s production capacity is able to meet current demand for the drug, and companies are committed to meeting production needs.

    The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) that India requires to produce hydroxychloroquine is made in China, as are roughly 70% of all APIs needed by India to manufacture drugs. This reality has opened up some concerns about the Chinese supply chain during a time when global tensions, particularly between the U.S. and China, are mounting.