The Indian government has lifted a ban on export of hydroxychloroquine (an anti-malaria drug being touted as a possible Coronavirus treatment) after being threatened by President Donald Trump.
Trump made a request for the export of hydroxychloroquine in a phone call with India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on Sunday morning (evening in India).
The Asian country which is the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, had placed a temporary export ban on the drug in order to preserve domestic stocks on March 25. The ban was further tightened on Saturday April 4, with formulations made from hydroxychloroquine also barred.
However in a press conference on Sunday April 6, Donald Trump explicitly threatened retaliation if the ban was not lifted for the US.
He said at the press conference; “I said we’d appreciate you allowing our supply to come out, If he doesn’t allow it to come out. That would be okay but, of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t that be?
“I don’t like that decision…I spoke to him [Mr Modi] yesterday. We had a very good talk, and we’ll see whether or not that’s his decision. I would be surprised if he would you know because India does very well with the US.”
Few days after President Trump issued the threat, an Indian government spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava announced that they have lifted some restrictions on hydroxychloroquine after officials “confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged”.
Srivastava also said on Tuesday April 7, that the drug would be kept in a “licenced” category, with the demand “continuously monitored”.
In the last few days, the US President has developed a public obsession with hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure for Coronavirus. He had also boasted that the US had already stockpiled 29m doses of the drug.
Trump’s obsession with hydroxychloroquine centered on a study carried out by a group of scientists in March, but the results have been openly dismissed by experts and major medical bodies.
The US orders for hydroxychloroquine from India were placed in March. The size of the order could not be ascertained and it was also not clear if they were placed by the US government through the agency spearheading the federal effort boost domestic availability of medical supplies and equipment needed to deal with the outbreak, or private companies.