Pharma Industry claims they do have capacity to meet hydroxychloroquine demand


New Delhi: Indian pharma industry on Tuesday said there is enough stock of hydroxychloroquine in the country, and drug firms are ready to ramp up the production to meet domestic as well as export requirements.

India has decided to partially lift the ban on the export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine in sync with its global commitment to deal with coronavirus pandemic.

On March 25, India had banned the export of hydroxychloroquine in the midst of concerns that the drug could be used to fight COVID-19.

India is the largest exporter of the drug. Officials said India would export the drug on a case-by-case basis after meeting all the domestic requirements.

“India manufactures 70 per cent of the world’s supply of hydroxychloroquine. Companies like Zydus Cadila and IPCA are the major manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine in the country,” Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) Secretary General Sudarshan Jain told PTI.

The production capacity is sufficient to meet the current demand. If the need arises, the companies are committed to ramp up production, he added.

“The government has withdrawn the restrictions on 12 products and its formulations. Various scenarios are being assessed and it will be the endeavour to meet both the domestic demand and export obligation for Paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine,” Jain said.

The objective is to minimise speculative buying and hoarding in these trying times and ensure balance in distribution for patients and segment who need them, he added.

In similar vein, Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) Executive Director Ashok Kumar Madan said: “India needs around 24 million tablets per year as on date for the three indications — malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, it was being used”.

India currently has an annual installed capacity of around 40 metric tonne of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) of hydroxychloroquine.

With this capacity, “we can make around 200 million tablets of 200 mg,” he added.

So this indicates, that India currently has spare available capacity.

Now, “we have to see how much would the country’s requirements for the drug would grow for both treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The companies have already started ramping the capacity,” Madan said.

Hydroxychloroquine has suddenly come into limelight after the recommendation for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, he added.

The major API makers for the drug in the country are Zydus, Ipca and Mangalam Drugs.

The major formulation makers of hydroxychloroquine are Ipca , Zydus, Wallace Pharmaceuticals and Cipla, Madan said.

India exported hydroxycholoroquine API worth USD 1.22 billion in April-January 2019-20.

During the same period exports of formulations made from hydroxycholoroquine was at USD 5.50 billion.