Coronavirus: India fully lifts export ban on hydroxychloroquine

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India Thursday fully lifted an export ban on hydroxychloroquine, a drug favored by US President Donald Trump as a treatment against coronavirus, as questions remain over the malaria medicine’s effectiveness against COVID-19.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notice that “hydroxychloroquine and its formulations” were now “free” to be exported.

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India accounts for 70 percent of global production of hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The South Asian nation of 1.3 billion in late March banned exports of the drug, citing domestic needs.

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But it partially lifted the prohibition in early April after Trump hinted at “retaliation,” allowing for licensing for export of the drug to countries in need.

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Brazil, Germany and a number of South Asian and African nations were reported to have been among those to ask India for major supplies of the medicine amid the contagion.

India’s top biomedical research body has backed the use of the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against coronavirus.

On Wednesday the World Health Organisation announced that hydroxychloroquine could be ruled out as treatment for hospitalized patients.

But it recognized that ongoing trials may show that the drugs have some value as a preventative measure.